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5 Ways to Get in Exercise During the Holidays

By Jenilee Matz
December 18, 2012; 2:30 PM

The holiday season means plenty of shopping, cooking, eating, drinking, and ... exercise. Exercise? If you are like most people - not so much. Hectic schedules - coupled with cooler temperatures and fewer daylight hours - prompt many to throw their fitness routine to the curb until after the holidays. But you don't have to "let yourself go" during the holidays.

Workouts can make your holidays brighter

A little exercise can go a long way during the holidays. The holiday season is packed with cheer, but it can also be full of stress. Taking care of yourself well - with exercise, a healthy diet, and plenty of sleep - is key for coping with stress.

Exercise can rev up your energy levels. Regular activity can also keep the eggnog and pumpkin pie from lingering on your hips. The average person gains about one pound during the holiday season. But regular exercise can help keep your weight in check. Talk to your doctor about the best types of activity for you.

How to keep exercise on your holiday list

-Plan ahead. Schedule a workout session on your calendar like you would a work meeting or a social event. But be flexible with your workout plans:

- Have a holiday celebration to attend after work during your normal exercise time? Plan to wake up early that morning and hit the gym. Or, spend your lunch break walking the halls of your office or the parking lot, or climbing stairs.

-Traveling to visit family? There's no need to put your fitness plans on hold until you return home. Before your departure, check the hotel's website for fitness facilities, browse the town's website for walking paths or parks, or ask a family member if you could get a guest pass to their gym.

-Break it up into short sessions. Adults should aim for 30 to 60 minutes of exercise, five days each week. But when your calendar is full, it's unrealistic - and stressful - to try to set aside an hour a day to work out. Instead, scatter shorter bursts of activity throughout your day, whenever you have spare time. As long as you're active for 10 minutes continuously, it counts as exercise.

-Do you have to take your child to and from a holiday pageant rehearsal? Find a nearby park and work out there while he or she is practicing. Do sprints, jumping jacks, and lunges.

-Have some downtime before you need to board your flight? Power walk around the airport terminal.

Multitask. Instead of letting exercise slide when you have too many commitments, try to be active and cross "to-do" items off your list at the same time.

-Busy prepping holiday treats? Go for a quick run around the neighborhood or do sit-ups or push-ups while your dish is cooking in the oven.

-Spending the day shopping? Park as far away from the store as you can, so you can get in a few more minutes of walking. Go for the steps over the elevator or escalator when you have the option.

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