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How can I keep my exercise goals during the holidays?

The holidays are a busy time and can make it challenging to fit fitness into your schedule. During the holidays there are a few strategies you can use to keep your fitness goals intact. Studies show that fitness can be maintained even when performing very short bouts of exercise. In fact, something as simple as a short 10-minute training circuit can help you maintain your current fitness level.

Other strategies include simply being more active in your daily life to compensate for a lack of time at the gym. Park far away from shops while out doing holiday shopping or running errands, take stairs instead of elevators, and walk to coworkers' offices to talk instead of sending emails. By combining short workouts with increased activity in your daily life you can maintain your current fitness levels over the holidays.

The holidays are a challenging time of the year to maintain health and fitness goals. One strategy is to try and schedule exercise first thing in the day before the day becomes too hectic and difficult to fit fitness in. Furthermore, experts recommend that during busy periods like the holidays that shorter bouts of exercise will allow you to maintain your current level of fitness over the short term. When the holidays hit you can exercise first thing in the morning and if crunched for time a shortened workout will still help you maintain your current fitness levels until after the holiday season is over.

The holidays can be such a busy time—parties, shopping, travel—that you may feel you don’t have time to exercise. However, exercise during the holidays may be even more important than usual. Research studies have found that heart attacks rise at Christmas and New Year’s, and one theory explaining the phenomenon is that the holidays may be a time when we abandon our routines (often for less healthy ones). Exercise can also help you maintain your weight and ease the stress and depression that are common during the holidays. Stress and depression both—in addition to being serious concerns on their own—appear to contribute to heart disease

Try the tips below for making sure you continue to exercise over the holidays. Your heart and overall health will benefit.

  • When you “don’t have time” over the holidays to exercise, the best strategy is to build shorter but more frequent periods of physical activity into your day, 10 minutes two to three times a day.
  • Walk whenever you can. Brisk walking while you are shopping for gifts or groceries counts. Park the car at the farthest end of a parking lot.
  • Take the stairs instead of escalators or elevators while shopping at the mall.
  • Do more housework, like scrubbing, mopping, vacuuming, etc. You can think of house cleaning for holiday guests as an opportunity to also get your daily exercise.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.