There are a lot of items on a holiday to-do list from purchasing presents to making meals. One task that misses the cut? Working out.
It can be easy to skip exercise when you’re balancing a busy schedule but the truth is you can’t afford not to fit in fitness. Research shows it doesn’t take long to undo the progress of a workout routine and there are boundless benefits to getting physical activity multiple times per week.
We consulted personal trainer and Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute member Jay Cardiello, who has worked with time-crunched celebrities like J. Lo, on the best ways to sneak in exercise during the holiday season. The best part? They only take a few minutes so you don’t have to miss any tree decorating or holiday film traditions.
Check them out below, then get sweating:
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1. Do some bed pushups.
A workout where you don’t have to leave the comfort of your comforter? Sign us up. Cardiello recommends starting your day by using your bed to get in a few pushups ― and all you need is 60 seconds.
“Since you’ll be working on an unstable service, the bed will force your body to work twice as hard, as opposed to performing this exercise on the floor,” he said.
2. Maximize daily activities like brushing your teeth.
You’re already doing it anyway, may as well turn it into a physical activity. Try standing on one leg as you brush, making sure you pull in your abdominal muscles tight.
“You’ll not only strengthen your core, you will increase balance and symmetry throughout your hips,” Cardiello explained.
3. Engage your muscles.
Strength training is critical to any workout routine, but Cardiello says it’s even more crucial if you’re only devoting a few minutes a day to exercise because it helps rev up your metabolism. No weights? No problem. Try performing three sets of basic squats for 25 reps at some point in your day.
4. Do a few stretches.
“Due to holiday travel and dressing up for holiday festivities, legs are muscles are often tight,” Cardiello said. “By stretching, you’ll not only improve flexibility but will also build strength.”
While on your back, extend your right leg and raise it until you feel a stretch, he instructed. Keep your left leg bent in order to protect your back and stop your hips from misaligning. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, then switch legs.
5. Use a basket when buying your holiday groceries.
Who said running errands was all bad?
“Grab a basket instead of a push cart at the store and burn extra calories in 30-minutes,” Cardiello advised. Just make sure to switch arms to make sure you’re working both sides evenly.
6. Take the stairs.
A simple swap can make a world of difference. Parking in the back of a lot at the store so you walk further and taking the stairs instead of an escalator in the mall are easy ways to torch a few extra calories. This is also Cardiello’s personal hacks that he tries implementing where he can.
“I look to combine exercise with my daily routine,” he said. “I increase my walk speed around NYC, take the stairs and go to the playground with my son, Max.”
7. Go for a walk.
Research shows that a stroll allows you to reap some major health benefits. Cardiello recommends turning an after dinner walk into a family activity or spending just a few minutes a day as a way to practice self care.
8. Do some cardio in place.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a few sets of jumping jacks when you first get out of bed or some squats while your cookies are in the oven. And don’t think about how many reps you’re doing, Cardiello suggested ― just move.
“Keep it simple and think back to when you were a child running around the school yard,” he said. “There weren’t any stop watches. You didn’t worry about how many calories you burned or how many sets you need to do. The more time you spend thinking about what to do, the more you will put it off to another day.”
9. Turn gift wrapping into a physical activity.
Yep, you read that correctly. Anything can be exercise if you try hard enough, Cardiello explained. Double those gifts as weights as you’re putting them in pretty packaging.
“Wrapping presents requires use of your arms, shoulders and neck muscles for balance,” he said. “Both large and small presents require focused, concentrated movements of the arms and fingers, and even an hour of this activity will easily turn into calorie-burning workout.”
10. Get your Zs.
Exercise’s BFF is a good night’s sleep.
“Sleep is the most important and overlooked component when it comes to your fitness,” Cardiello stressed. That’s because a lack of sleep falsely increases your appetite, making you more likely to excessively reach for those unhealthy holiday treats.
So, if you need us, we’ll be hitting the hay this holiday season (and then waking up to do some bed pushups or some other quick activity).