Ready, set… find the perfect gift for your sister, mail cards to 30 relatives, frost cookies for the school bake sale, hang three jumbo-sized storage tubs-worth of decorations, make spinach dip for the neighborhood potluck party. Tired yet? The holidays are jam-packed with activity, leaving you little time to sit down for a breather let alone make it to the gym for an hour-long workout.
Rise and shine
Now is not the time to cave to the snooze button. Get up a little earlier than usual and you can sneak in a workout before everyone else wakes up. Thirty minutes is ideal, but even 15 or 20 is enough to get your body moving and rev up your metabolism. Try doing stretches, squats, lunges, leg lifts, push ups, dips, burpees and jumping jacks in your living room. Or pop in a workout DVD, such as the Gaiam Yoga Conditioning for Weight Loss Program with Suzanne Deason. Stick with it over the course of a few weeks and watch how much better you feel, both physically and mentally.
Take a break
If you’re trapped at a desk in an office all day, use your lunch break to work out. Holiday traffic may be too hectic to allow you to make it to the gym and back in an hour, so pack your sneakers and take a brisk walk around the building. Make it fun by wearing a pedometer and keeping track of your daily journeys. (How much further can you walk today than yesterday?) You might also keep a few basic workout tools—resistance tubes or small hand weights—tucked in your desk drawers. If you get some down time during the day, stand up, stretch and squeeze in a few exercises.
If winter weather has you cooped up indoors with restless kids, let everyone expend some energy with a fun activity such as ice skating (indoors or outdoors), roller skating, bowling or visiting an indoor trampoline park. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, get busy with your brood, really pushing yourself to get in a good workout. You might be surprised at how sore your muscles are after a day of hard play!
Go the extra mile
Whether you’re storming the mall in search of last-minute gifts or cleaning the house for holiday company, look for ways to challenge yourself. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park two lots over and walk to the store you plan to shop. Walk quickly. Exaggerate your motions (this is easy to do when you’re cleaning—reach further when you vacuum, squat deeply as you spot-cleaning the floor). There are always opportunities to burn extra calories and tone muscle. Be conscious of your movements, and you’ll find them.
Hit the gym
Just because you don’t have a full hour or more to devote to a workout doesn’t mean you have to be a stranger at the gym. Pop in when you can for 30 minutes of exercise. You could do 15 minutes of cardio and 15 minutes of strength training. Or try a 30-minute circuit workout, moving from one machine to the next with little rest in order to keep your heart rate too. Even just 30 minutes of straight-up cardio is a good plan. If you prevent yourself from taking too long of a break from the gym when times are busy, you won’t have to struggle to get back into the routine once your schedule frees up again.
IFBB figure professional Melissa Transou, a fitness expert, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports and nutrition needs of women and female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com. Learn more about Melissa in this recent RXMuscle.com spotlight article, connect with her on Facebook or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.