It's the most wonderful time of year for a fit and festive holiday season. Tis the season for after work and weekend mixers. But that doesn't mean that your health has to go to the way-side. Give your fitness routine the importance it deserves and you will enjoy good tidings and good health. If you're looking for inspiration, follow these nine tips for staying fit and having a healthier holiday.
Fun, not food
So many of our holiday activities are centered around eating traditions. Instead, throw yourself into the other rituals a holiday brings, whether it's caroling or tree trimming. If you feel you have extra time on your hands, focus off food and start (or finish!) a project that will have lasting meaning, like creating a family scrapbook.
Turn up the intensity
You should still fit in two or three sweat sessions in your week over the holidays. Studies show that even 15 or 30 minute workouts can burn a lot of calories - as long as you bring your top effort and turn up your intensity levels to the max.
Become an early bird
Wake up an hour earlier to get that workout done. Instead of foregoing your fitness routine, put in a little extra hustle in your morning for an early morning, short workout. Your body will thank you for it come the New Year.
Trade in a workout at the gym for an evening of sledding with family and friends. Outdoor activities will give you bonding time with nature and family and keep you on track for a healthier you. If an influx of family and visitors make it difficult to do your usual workout (say, a gym visit or a solitary run or bike ride), try to get everyone involved in something seasonal, like ice skating
Plan for a snow day
Create a home stretch and workout routine that you can complete when you really can't get to the gym. Having a routine and sound track ready to go, will give you zero excuses to get your body moving. Studies show that having a plan in place increases your chances actually going through with your plans.
Find active group activities
If you can't drag yourself - or anyone else - outdoors, look for indoor alternatives to slumping on the sofa. Games like Wii-Fit offer a realm of opportunities for hitting virtual tennis balls and punching invisible targets without leaving the living room, or try one of the latest exercise DVDs or YouTube videos. Or there's always good old-fashioned Twister.
Galvanize Your Mood
Update your iPod with some festive music. Find something upbeat that will inspire you to get your body moving. You can find some great suggestions online here and here for filling up your playlist.
Laugh It Up
Researchers at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee found that giggling for a few minutes a day burns enough calories to burn 5lbs of fat a year. What makes you laugh - Cracker jokes? Re-watching the movie Elf? Actively seek out things that tickle your funny bone.
Timing Is Everything
It's better to schedule activity in after eating, rather than before. Research shows that post-prandial exercise attenuates the glycaemic effect of food, minimizing blood sugar spikes and dips and reducing the likelihood of further snacking later on. Gentle after-dinner activity also helps to support digestion a lot more than nodding off in an armchair does.