Saturday, December 16, 2017

Holiday Fitness

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by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner

Those two words can coexist. It may be tempting to slack off the last few busy, exciting, tiring, hoop-jumping weeks of the year. But you’ve come this far …

Shorter days, colder air, and the hectic holidays don’t always mix. Admit it, some of us have been lagging since we moved the clocks back. Being thrown into the demand of year-end deadlines, budget plans, and a gift list the size of Santa’s seems like plain old bad timing. Alas, the calendar is not going to change. December will never follow June, so get energized. Keep the fitness momentum.

You Crave More Than Cookies

Train for holiday shopping! Increase stamina and package-carrying strength.
Train for holiday shopping. Increase stamina and package-carrying strength!

This time of year especially, your body and mind hunger for a workout with its therapeutic and calorie-burning perks. Goodies abound, but so does stress, errands, and chores. You also need the immune-boosting benefits of a good workout. Cold and flu thrive in the winter wonderland with their own ferocious appetite for the stressed, weary, and sleep-deprived.

Low-energy levels require cardio fitness to manage long days wrapped up with a dash through the mall. You actually don’t have time to skip your workout. (You read that right.) Your schedule cannot afford a body that does not perform at peak.

Aerobic exercise increases stamina over the long-term. Stay the course! After a heart-pumping workout, you’ll have an extra spring in your step to carry you through your entire to-do list. A toned body is more efficient. Movement is more fluid and requires less exertion when you’re fit.

Tips for Fitting in Fitness

Try a new Group Fitness class during the holidays and throughout the winter.  Go for a class that exudes energy. The more you expend, the more you gain. The novelty will keep you coming back for more.

Consider hiring a personal trainer to take you through the holiday season. Gift yourself this team approach to exercise. A personal trainer increases compliance, especially during the busy, calorie-laden holidays.

On the Exercise Floor, keep momentum going with an upbeat song list. Add fresh songs to your fitness program. Compile playlists designated for specific workouts, like one for pumping iron and another for cycling.

Increase movement throughout your day. Ask a personal trainer to share quick stretches or a circuit-training routine to squeeze in during your lunch break or early evening. Think of them as sparks to stoke your fitness fire. Short bursts of physical activity increase blood circulation. Instant gratification: a perkier attitude.

Take your workout music with you. Listen to songs you associate with fitness and feeling good to energize beyond your workout time. Be inspired to hit the Center and recreate those associations.

Get out for your daily dose.
Get out for your daily dose.

Get your dose of sunshine. Walk, run, hike, and take in nature. Even though you can’t wear shorts and sandals, the sun is still bright and the air is fresh. We all need a healthy amount of vitamin D to activate our calcium intake. Researchers also believe this vitamin fights off depression, a total energy-zapper. The sun’s rays are thought to regulate special receptors in the eyes that adjust body clock and mood. A quick jaunt outdoors may be all you can manage one overloaded day. And that’s okay.

Lower your standards. Perfectionists are often the biggest procrastinators. Doing a partial workout may not be ideal, but it is better than nothing. Alternate cardio and strength training when you don’t have time for both. You can accomplish a workout even on an overloaded day.

At least go through the motions of your fitness routine after a marathon day of shopping. Sometimes showing up is half the effort. Sometimes showing up is enough. Keep the fitness commitment in your daily routine, rather than start a string of absences.

Identify your priorities and focus on them. Improvise when necessary. There are plenty of opportunities to be generous this holiday season. Sacrificing time to improve your health through fitness does not need to be one of them.

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