‘TIS THE SEASON TO… SKIP YOUR WORKOUTS? For many of us, as the holiday season hurls us into busy preparations and social engagements, finding time to exercise can descend down (or miss) our list of priorities. However, the benefits of exercise for combatting the effects of holiday excess and dealing with the stress of the season are too important to miss out on. Try these tips for keeping your workouts happening, even with a busy schedule:
1. Short doses of higher intensity
New research is indicating that interval training (shorter duration bursts of higher intensity exercise) is more effective than steady state (less intense, longer duration exercise) for overall health benefits. Therefore, cut down your workout, and ramp up the intensity (make sure you can do so safely.) If you have any health concerns, make sure you consult a qualified fitness and health professional to show you how you can make a higher intensity workout safe for you.
2. Break up the workout through the day
If you can’t find a stretch of time to devote to exercise, break your routine into smaller chunks that you can do for shorter periods of time. A 60 minute workout can be done in 10-20 minute segments. For example, get in 10 minutes of cardio first thing in the morning (an exercise video, brisk walking the dog, etc.) then do a few strength exercises at lunch time (push ups, dips, squats) and repeat them mid-afternoon. After dinner do 10 more minutes of cardio, and then some yoga or stretching for 10-20 minutes before bed. There’s a full workout!
3. Pair some exercises with an activity
Can’t think of any time in your day when you could get in some fitness? What about combining an activity you have to do anyway with an exercise? For instance, you already have to brush your teeth, so why not get in your leg work while doing it? Try two sets of squats and a set of stationary lunges. Plus, this way you know you will be brushing your teeth for the required about of time (at least 3-4 minutes.)
4. Change your routine
When things get busy, sometimes you have to go with the flow and get creative. Look for opportunities in your day to get in some activity. Are you visiting a building with a lot of stairs? Do some stair sets! If you can get in 10 minutes of stairs, you can tick off your cardio from your to-do list! Even 3-5 minutes of high intensity stair climbing is beneficial, and if you are lower functioning, just have a goal of challenging yourself a bit.
5. Combine socializing with exercise
The busyness of this time of year can make it difficult to find time to get together with your friends and other important people in your life. We often become committed to additional social engagements such as parties, which make it hard to find time to squeeze in visits with close friends. Why not combine the mental health benefits of social support with the additional benefits of exercise? I love catching up with a close friend by going for a long walk along the seawall or the beach (Jericho to West Spanish Banks is great.) If you don’t live in Vancouver or are in a cold environment, not so conducive to walking, you can schedule an indoor activity. A game of squash, water walking at an indoor pool, or mall walking (first walk and talk, then later go shopping – check mark, done!)