Staying Active and in Shape During the Holidays

Young woman wrapped in a blanket is sitting on floor and looking sick.

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It's hard enough to exercise the rest of the year, but add holidays to the mix and many of us find exercise becomes less of a priority as to-do lists grow longer and longer. The last thing you want is more stress and, for many of us, trying to keep to our usual workout program does just that.

At the same time, staying active in some way will give you energy. It can also reduce stress and tension and, of course, help mitigate some of the extra calories you may be eating.

You can find that balance if you plan ahead and prepare yourself for any eventuality. Try some of these workouts to help you stay active this holiday season.

3 Ways to Maintain Holiday Fitness

Use these strategies to stay active and fit while you enjoy the holidays. Even if you don't exercise as much as you do during the rest of the year, getting some activity will provide benefits.

Plan Ahead

If you're traveling, planning ahead can make all the difference. Take some time to figure out what your options are so you're ready for anything.

  • If you're staying with family, find any nearby gyms and ask if they let guests use their facility, or sell day passes.
  • If that's not an option, ask family or friends if they have any fitness equipment you can use.
  • If you're staying in a hotel, find out if it has an exercise room.
  • Plan simple workouts that don't require much space or equipment. You may be able to sneak in a workout in a basement or hotel room without bothering anyone.
  • Search for walking, running or park trails nearby.
  • Talk to your family in advance and suggest taking a walk or doing something active together.

Try to plan your workout schedule beforehand. Even if you have to change it (which is likely when you're traveling), you've already made a commitment to exercise. It's easier to stick with it when you have it planned than to squeeze it in later.

Get Prepared

If you're not sure about your schedule or whether you'll even have time to get in a workout, plan for the worst-case scenario. That may mean exercising in grandma's basement with no equipment and only 10 or 15 minutes to yourself. Try these quick tips for squeezing in a workout even when you only have minutes to spare.

  • Bring a workout plan with you. Plan a 10-minute routine you could do right in your bedroom. Choose 10 exercises (squats, lunges, push-ups, jumping jacks, and so on) and do each for 1 minute. Or check out the holiday workouts below for other ideas.
  • Bring resistance bands. Resistance bands travel well, and you can use them for quick strength exercises whenever you catch a few minutes.
  • Move your equipment (weights or bands) into your bedroom if guests are staying with you so you can sneak in some exercise at night or in the morning.
  • Bring along a workout on DVD or try streaming workouts online, such as those offered by FitnessOnDemand.
  • Wear your running or walking shoes as much as you can. You may find a 20-minute window when people are napping or before dinner for a quick walk or run.

You may even want to invite some family members for a walk. Sometimes there are others who'd love to work out, but they're just waiting for someone else to step up first.

Use Every Opportunity

Planning and preparing are nice, but even the best-laid plans get derailed, especially during the holidays. If you find there's just no way to get in a workout, get creative and find ways to move your body any way you can:.

  • If everybody's sitting around watching football, get on the floor for some sit-ups or push-ups. If that feels weird, try isometric exercises—squeeze and hold the abs, the glutes, or even press the hands together to engage the chest.
  • If you don't have equipment, pick up some full water bottles or soup cans for quick lateral raises or overhead presses. Something is always better than nothing.
  • If you're hanging out with kids, set up a game of football, tag, or hide and seek.
  • Offer to help with housework, shoveling snow, or raking leaves.
  • Walk as much as possible. Take extra laps at the mall, use the stairs, volunteer to walk the dog.

Holiday Workouts to Try

These routines cover everything from cardio to circuit training to strength workouts with no equipment. Bookmark them to try over the holidays, or use them for inspiration in creating your own workouts.

The most important thing is to be realistic and go easy on yourself. You aren't always in charge of your schedule during the holidays so you can only do your best. Remind yourself that you can get back to your routine after this busy season.

1 Source
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  1. Vina J, Sanchis-Gomar F, Martinez-Bello V, Gomez-Cabrera MC. Exercise acts as a drug; the pharmacological benefits of exercise. Br J Pharmacol. 2012;167(1):1-12. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2012.01970.x