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Smart ideas for keeping fit over the holidays

Published by Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD on Dec 28, 2015

This holiday season whether you’re hosting houseguests or you are the houseguest, your fitness routine does not have to suffer. Even though the average holiday weight gain is only about one pound, studies have shown that extra one pound tends to hang on adding to the annual weight gain many adults experience.

“For the average person who is in generally good health, weight gain can be one of the most significant ways the holidays affects your health,” said Dr. David Samadi, chairman of urology and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“According to several studies, people tend to gain about one to two pounds on average over the holidays,” reemphasized Dr. Samadi. “One to two pounds is likely for people who have a normal body mass index (BMI). However, if you are already overweight, you usually gain a lot more. One study found that overweight people gained five pounds or more during the holidays. To some, this may not seem like a big deal on a seasonal basis. But over the years, this can add up.”

Add in the extra stress, travel plans and disrupted schedules and your regular exercise routine often gets bumped aside. This holiday season make keeping fit a priority. You’ll feel better due to the endorphins being released, have more energy and stamina along with enjoying the company you’re with.

Here are ideas to keep you focused and disciplined on staying in shape so you’ll come through the holidays a fitness winner:

• Workout in the morning before anyone else is awake. Even if you are not a morning exerciser, getting your fitness routine done early means you can cross it off your list and puts that extra pep in your step.

• If you’re the houseguest, bring along a jump rope. A few minutes of jumping rope is fantastic for cardio and all that landing on your feet is a weight-bearing movement adding in an extra bonus of strengthening your bones.

• Sneak in exercise by being a helpful houseguest. Offer to walk the dog, vacuum the house, clean up the yard, shovel snow, or take the kids to the park. Going the extra effort will pay off in maintaining your fitness.

• Suggest fun exercise ideas to get everyone involved – take a brisk walk through a park or nature trail, sign up for a 5K walk/run, play tag, put on music and have a dance contest, go sledding or ice-skating, or build a snowman or fort and throw snowballs at one another. If you’re in a warm climate take advantage of getting outdoors or walking or running along a beach.

• Do exercises requiring minimal space such as squats, push-ups, lunges, dips, planks, and jumping jacks. Throughout the day, do a set of 5-10 each of these movements to burn calories helping to keep muscles firm.

• Do wall sits for 2 minutes while brushing your teeth. Your quads and glutes will thank you for this.

• Wear a pedometer. Have a goal to achieve 10,000 steps each day.

Yoga or Pilates – whichever you prefer – are always awesome ways to stretch, tone and maintain flexibility. Minimal space required and no equipment needed.

Staying active and fit during the holidays can be done. Make a plan, stick with it as every little bit of movement adds up. Just as important though, is to remember the real reason for the holidays – spending time with those you cherish.

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Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD

Cheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Institutional Management from Kansas State University. She is a clinical dietitian for Cotton O’Neil Clinics in Topeka and Osage City; an adjunct professor for Allen Community College, Burlingame, KS where she teaches Basic Nutrition; and is a freelance writer and blog contributor for Dr. David Samadi, Urologic Oncologist Expert and World Renowned Robotic Surgeon in New York City. Cheryl is also the author of The Nourished Brain, The Latest Science on Food’s Power for Protecting the Brain from Alzheimers and Dementia and The Prediabetes Action Plan and Cookbook, both available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback editions.