by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
In the hurry of the season, your schedule may be bulging more than Santa’s sack. How can you manage a workout when you’re busy trying to manage holiday spending, baking, and celebrating? And, doesn’t that time spent decking the house count as strength training …
The year’s end signals extra responsibilities and stresses. Those who struggled to find time for exercise back in June are probably barely able to add it to their wish list right now. The world doesn’t need more advice on how to reduce holiday stress. What’s needed is how to make time for yourself to keep fit, healthy, and happy (yes, even during the holidays).
Get Up and Out
Get up a little earlier and go a long way. The stamina built during an early morning workout will fuel your day. You won’t even notice a little less shut-eye. Many members report feeling invigorated by an a.m. sweat session. Before you hit the office or start the carpools, you’ve already accomplished something. Along with the health benefits, you earn the positive mindset from being in get-things-done mode. Take care of yourself first, so you can better tackle everything else in your life.
Don’t short yourself on necessary sleep in the process. Sleep is critical for your health. For more, see “Exercise & Sleep Better, at F&W News, http://fitnessandwellnessnews.com/fitness/exercise-sleep-better. Find ways to tuck in earlier on nights before workout mornings. There is hope for the night owl. If you find yourself wide awake during dreamtime, take a few weeks to reset your sleep clock.
Note the time you actually fall asleep at night. What you thought was elevenish may actually be the wee early hours of morn. If so, your eight recommended hours actually translates as six or less. No surprise you hit the snooze button through your workout wake-up time and opt for a bagel on the go.
Along with noting and setting better sleeping hours, keep them consistent. Yawning our way through the week makes us crave time to sleep in on days off. Keep a consistent sleep schedule once it’s regulated to fit your needs. (Those “needs” shouldn’t include the late movie. You know you’ll get hooked and stay up for the whole show.)
Hormones are responsible for this biological clock. Dr. Colette Haward, MD, a psychiatrist in New York City, describes these hormones as helpers that aid in sleep and wakefulness. She considers cortisol, a “butt-kicking personal trainer who revs you up in the morning.” Melatonin she equates to a “mellow meditation instructor,” who soothes at sleep-time. Keep these helpers on track by rising and sleeping at predictable hours. No one likes an unexpected guest– especially not a delivery of mellow when it’s time to catch the commuter train.
For the very challenged, wear your workout clothes to bed. It’s hard to deny the decision made the previous night, before the lure of your pillow. Drink some water, eat a nutritious breakfast, and head out the door. Don’t forget to pack a change of clothes for post-workout!
Added perk: Others probably aren’t aware you’re awake this early. Heck, they are sleeping themselves. You won’t have to worry about being sidetracked or stalled in your efforts. And, traffic will be light.
Don’t fill your lunch break with eating alone. Head to the Center for a Group Fitness class or reps on the Exercise Floor. Shower off and head back to work refreshed and energized. Productivity is proven to increase after a lunchtime workout, especially if this jaunt caused your absence at office pizza day.
If you’re short on time, go for a walk (sprint?) around the building. Bad weather is not an excuse– use the stairs and climb the building. Wander the cubicles at high speed. Coworkers will start to recognize your approach by the swish of your gait. Keep momentum going on your fitness journey to help pass mile markers to your destination of best health ever.
Especially this time of year, there are days when lightning speed couldn’t get you to the Center. (Or at least to the Center for your full routine.) Keep your fitness efforts going throughout the day, regardless. Check the standards off your list with mini exercise equipment in your office. A stability ball and set of dumbbells can be used at your desk. A 10-minute interlude can also burn off stress accumulated from office politics or a project gone wrong.
Need ideas for a workout that delivers a quick fix? Check with a personal trainer. S/he can advise on exercises to complement your Center workout.
Multitask your workout with interval training. This full-body style fitness routine allows cardio and strength training simultaneously. Even if you only fit in half your usual program, you’ll have achieved all aspects of fitness. Of course, this should be attempted only after each individual task is mastered on its own.
For the advanced treadmill user, sculpt while on the treadmill. Hold three- to five-pound weights in each hand. Try this:
- Always follow the basic treadmill rules– wear the safety clip, understand all the controls, know your heart rate and training zones, and be comfortable with hands-free use of the treadmill. Also, avoid cell phone usage or backward glances.
- Set the treadmill speed to a brisk walk.
- While walking, consecutively perform a one-minute set each of shoulder presses, biceps curls, triceps extensions, side laterals, front laterals, and standing triceps kickbacks.
- As you improve, increase to four-minute sets.
Always check with a personal trainer before attempting new combinations. S/he may also offer additional ways to multitask your workout.
Know the Goal
Determine your goals to allow a direct approach to achievement. Throughout the year, our fitness endeavors shift. Spring motivates with a flurry of swim suit possibilities. (T-shirt or shirtless with those trunks? Bikini or swim skirt?) Right now, you could be trying to cram to accomplish that New Year’s resolution made many months ago. It may be a little red holiday dress. Or, you could wish to start 2012 with a bang. Whatever your motivation, be sure it’s clearly defined. It’s easier to make exercise a priority with specific goals in mind.
You cannot afford to be out of commission when juggling year-end reports and holiday cookies. Research indicates moderate exercise on most days of the week results in half the sick time. Additionally, when exercisers do succumb to the inevitable virus, they frequently suffer milder symptoms with a quicker recovery. No vitamin, supplement, or probiotic has this impressive track record. Give yourself the gift of time!
Studies also indicate moderate exercise on a frequent basis enhances immune responses, which extends to a three-hour flooding of natural cells that help find and kill viruses. Before attending the next soiree or overcrowded mall, where coughs in unison become the season’s carols, stop at the Center for a little immune-boosting. For long-term protection, regular exercise counters inflammation, the cause of many chronic diseases. Consider your workout an investment in your body’s future in the bank of time.
Your world relies on you to make the season bright. Gift-give to yourself with a little “me” time at the Center. Then, shine brilliantly with a spring in your step. Be this season’s radiant star.
“10 Ways to Sneak in a Workout,” at www.fitnessmagazine.com.
“How to Become a Morning Person,” by Bethany Gumper at www.fitnessmagazine.com.
Running Santa (introductory photo): http://www.flickr.com/photos/28990363@N05/5280857437/
Early riser: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ramananv/5511838388/
Little red dress: http://www.flickr.com/photos/73416633@N00/418342500/