The winter holiday season can be a busy time. It's easy to become out of balance with our food intake and our activity output. Here are 9 tips to fit in some physical activity and help relieve holiday stress:
- It's a shoe-in. As much as you can, wear running or comfortable walking shoes so you can get moving whenever there's an opportunity. Pop a casserole in the oven and head out the door for a walk or jog while it's baking. Park farther away and walk to your destination. Walk the mall before you shop the mall.
- Dress for winter weather. "There is no bad weather, only bad clothing" according to a saying generally attributed to Scandinavian origin. Cold weather may be an easy excuse to cut down on your physical activity during the winter but having clothing well-suited for winter activities can help.
- Work out with your mobile device. Download an app or video for your mobile device or watch an online video that will help you get moving. Some of these may be especially helpful when you're traveling and staying in a hotel or with friends. Use your favorite search engine or check with the app store for your mobile device to find apps and videos that inspire you.
- Find trails and tracks before you travel. Visit USA Track & Field for routes for walking or running in your destination city. Check with your host or hotel as to their safety before you take off. The hotel or your host may have additional suggestions.
- Try some tempting tunes. If you like to work out to music, gift yourself with some new tunes to get motivated. For example, search for holiday fitness music. Or you could put together your own playlist. Check your favorite music source site for possible motivation.
- Clean your house. Set aside several hours one day and REALLY clean your house. Bending, squatting, running up and down stairs, standing while folding and putting away laundry, etc. all burn calories. Get workouts the old-fashioned way — by working out!
- Look for a holiday fun run. Fun runs are often held over the holidays. There is usually a small fee and they're open to everyone from runners to people who meander along the trail with friends. They are usually 5K runs (3.1 miles). Get in the back of the pack when starting if you plan to set a more leisurely pace. Invite your friends and plan on an outing with coffee or a meal together afterwards. You'll feel better physically and mentally for it.
- Build activity into family visits and outings. Encourage house guests to bring workout clothes suitable for walking or perhaps activities at a local health club.
- Fly with wheels (or a backpack). If you're flying during the holidays, use the time between flights to get in some activity. If time allows, walk to a far-away gate vs. taking a people mover. Walk vs. wait at your gate until you can board your flight. If you are lugging carryon luggage, make it easier and more comfortable to move by using a wheeled suitcase or a backpack.
Here are a few more ideas for staying active in the winter:
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (2nd edition), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Workplace Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
This article was originally written by Alice Henneman. It was updated and reviewed in 2021.
Family Fun on the Run is a monthly newsletter designed to help families add physical activity to their already hectic schedules.