11 Tips for Staying Fit During the Holidays

Get fitness tips for the holidays from top nutrition experts.
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People on treadmills in gym

Photo by: Jupiterimages ©(C) 2008 Jupiterimages

Jupiterimages, (C) 2008 Jupiterimages

With all the excitement of the holidays, exercise usually gets crossed off the list. Instead of being naughty with your regimen, try these expert tips for staying on track.

Make It Festive and Fun

Registered dietitian and certified specialist in sports dietetics Lindsey Pine suggests signing up for seasonal activities. “To keep one consistently active during the holidays, I recommend signing up for athletic events such as fun runs, half marathons or obstacle course races," she says. "Not only is there an end goal to work towards, but they're great to do in teams with friends and loved ones.”

Connecticut-based dietitian Lori Sullivan recommends getting off the couch and enlisting the entire family. "Plan an activity that gets everyone moving: flag football, Frisbee, hoops, hopscotch, jump rope (double dutch), a walk or hike," she says. "Sitting around watching parades and football is not an activity."

Take a Brisk Walk (or Jog)

“After lunch and dinner, we go for a mini walk around the block (or office/house if the weather is too severe),” says Sarah Koszyk founder of Family. Food. Fiesta. “Even if it's only 10 minutes or less, we do our best to move and it's a great time to talk.”

“Morning jogs are a must during the holidays,” says Caroline Susie, R.D. “That 20 minutes helps me manage holiday stress and burn a few additional calories for holiday treats (or, in my case, holiday drinks!).” Follow Caroline on Twitter @carolinesusieRD.

Wellness blogger Jessica Serdikoff’s tip helps you make the most of your holiday shopping. “If you find yourself going shopping, everyone tells you to park far away (and you'll probably have to with the crowds!). But why not also take one to two power-walking laps around the mall or shopping center before hitting the stores? You'll get your heart rate up and scope out all your options at the same time,” she says.

Get Your Muscles Pumping

If the cold weather really deters you from exercise, sports dietitian Deb Iovoli points out there are some activities you can do in the warmth of your house. “Incorporate strength training into workouts," she says. "[I have] a pull-up [bar] in my bedroom for pull-ups and ab workouts (knees to elbows). If you are headed out, add some strength training to your cardio routine. ... During a run outside, I will run two to three minutes, do 25 squats, run two to three minutes, do 25 push-ups, run two to three minutes, do 25 lunges, run two to three minutes, do 25 dips on a bench (or whatever I can find) — repeat two to four times. [It's] better than just a run.”

Drink Up

Considering the flowing cocktails and decadent foods, it’s easy to see how hydration can fall by the wayside. Amy von Sydow Green uses her dual degrees in nutrition and medicine for her recommendation. “Stay hydrated," she says. "Try sipping on green or herbal tea to warm up. ... Holding something in your hand may help you stay off that cookie platter.”

Plan Ahead

Kristin Smith of 360FamilyNutrition suggests having a game plan and committing to it. “Each week come up with an exercise plan and schedule it as an important appointment in your calendar,” she says.

Dangle a Carrot

A reward system or some good old-fashioned competition may be the key to your fitness success. Lara Felton says: “Exercise gets tough during the holidays, so my sister and I have a run 1 mile challenge each year where you run at least 1 mile a day from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. And if you miss a day, you pay the other person $3. It gets me out the door each day and usually I end up running more than 1 mile.”

Author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies Erin Palinski-Wade recommends easy-to-use fitness tools. “Use a fitness tracker, such as a simple pedometer, to track and increase your steps every day of the holiday season," she says. "Remember, exercise is cumulative. It’s the total amount of movement by the end of the day that matters the most.”

Mandy Unanski Enright recommends setting a goal and having a loved one help hold you accountable. “Since it’s the holidays, why not set up a reward system to earn a present for yourself come Jan. 1? Set a goal of how many times you’d like to work out each week (be realistic!), and mark down on your calendar every time you complete a workout," she says. "If you meet your goal by Jan. 1, then you’ve earned that item you’ve had your eye on. Make sure to tell those close to you, like your spouse, about your plan so they can keep you both motivated and honest.”

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

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