I know that life can get busy at any given time, and the holidays are no exception! One thing I’ve learned over the years is how important it is to take time for yourself. Maintaining some kind of physical activity through the season is a great way to release stress, boost your energy and get some quality “me time” to help fuel you through the holiday season and keep you healthy! I know this is a very busy time of year for everyone.
Trying to make time for physical activity can seem like hassle, rather than a beneﬁt but if you read ahead you’ll see the many beneﬁts of being physically active and get some practical tips on how to sneak activity into your already busy day!
First let’s start by re-framing why physical activity is an important tool to help us successfully get through this holiday season.
Some of the beneﬁts of physical activity include:
Weight controlHelps to lower cholesterol levels decreasing risk of strokeMetabolic syndrome and high blood pressureHelps control diabetes by stabilizing blood sugarHelps to improve, or reduce depressionHelps with arthritis, and can help prevent fallsIt improves our mood by stimulating chemicals in the brain that can leave you feeling happier and more relaxedBoosts your energy, by delivering oxygen and other nutrients to our tissues and brainCan help promote better sleep
So how do you ﬁt in exercise when life gets super busy?
TIP 1: Enlist the help of a buddy Make a plan with a family member, a friend or coworker. Having someone to be accountable to will help you keep this goal in check. Many places offer in door walking through the cold, winter season. Take advantage of these places, and make a plan with a friend to catch up over a nice warm indoor walk. Scheduling your physical activity breaks into your day is another way to make sure you stay on track. Whether you write it down on your calendar, 3 PM gym and you go to your favorite class, or try using your coffee breaks at work to sneak in some extra physical activity, a quick brisk walk around the block is a great way to get moving and keep your energy from plummeting during the day.
TIP 2: Squeeze exercise in when you can! Another great way to sneak some extra activity in is by taking advantage of the little moments, like when we are brushing our teeth – this is a great time for doing squats and lunges! Does your workplace have stairs? Use these instead of the elevator! If you ﬁnd yourself in front of the TV in the evening, use the commercial breaks to jog on the spot, hold a plank, or do burpes to really get your heart rate up!
Here’s an example of a typical 8-5 workday where you can sneak some extra physical activity in:
6am – wake up 6:10am – 15 squat jumps, 5 lunges each side, 30 second plank
6:20am – breakfast
6:30am – brush teeth and do squats and lunges (2 minutes)
7:45am – leave the house
8am – work
10:30am – 15 minute break, walk around the block
Noon – 1-hr lunch: 30 minute walk around the block, 30 minutes for lunch
2:30pm – 15 minute break
4pm – off work
4:30pm – 1 hour gym class with a friend / indoor walking with a friend
6pm – arrive home, get dinner on the table (it’s been in the slow cooker all day, all you need to do is dish it up! Check out the easy recipe below for an all-in-one meal the entire family will enjoy!)
6:30pm – dinner with family By this time you’ve already squeezed in 1 hour and 52 minutes of activity!
By this time you’ve already squeezed in 1 hour and 52 minutes of activity!
Slow Cooker Chicken, Green Beans and Potatoes
1.5 – 2 lbs bonesless, skiness chicken breast
3 cups green beans
4 cups diced potatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
2.5 tso of your favourite salt-free seasonsing blend (ie Mrs Dash)
1. Place the chicken in the centre of the slow cooker, add the beans to one side and the potatoes to the other
2. Drizzle with olive oil
3. Sprinkle with seasoning blend
4. Add approximately 1/4 cup water, enough to cover the bottom of the slow cooker by 1-2 inches
5. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours
It’s also important to remember that all movement is good movement. With the high stress and very busy nature of the holiday season taking part in a yoga class, or doing one in the comfort of your home (there are many yoga classes on YouTube!) it can be a really great way to move the body, calm the mind, and be present.
Here are some fun ideas that you can do yourself, or with friends and family over the holidays:
Have a dance recital at home and have everyone create their own dancePark further awayWalk shorter distances instead of drivingBuild a snow-fortPlay outdoor hockeyNeighborhood strollTake a brisk walk after dinnerDuring the holidays, your neighbors invest a great deal of time and money into all kinds of lights, inﬂatables, and décor. Take a nighttime stroll with the kids to see all those amazing holiday decorations and displays of imagination and creativitySnowball ﬁght: Choose sides, set up base, and let the snowballs ﬂy. Dodge and maneuver your way to better positionsPlay hide and seek or capture the ﬂag with a group of friends and/or familyGo for a winter nature walk. Look for animal tracks, trees and birdsWalk to a friend – neighbour’s house for a visit (at least 10 minutes away)Build a snowperson look-alike for each family memberMake a family of snow angelsBuild snow castles, mazes, or snow sculpturesGo tobogganing, remember the helmets!Plan a family game of snow pitch (slow pitch in the snow) or neighborhood game of Capture the SnowballUse food colouring in a spray bottle to create a hopscotch game on the snowEnjoy the winter wonderland while hiking nature trails or walking on a beachTry skating on an outdoor rinkSnowshoeing and cross-country skiing are wonderful family outings. You can rent equipment at some outdoor activity centres or parksGo on a treasure hunt outsidePlay freeze-tag or snow FrisbeeOrganize a house ﬁtness circuit. Include jumping jacks in the living room, wall push-ups in the bedroom, kicks in the kitchen, etc.Help with housework. Tidy up and vacuum with vigorPlay active games. Break up the day with a game of Twister or Simon SaysCreate a silly family winter dance. Enjoy some of your favourite music too!Go swimmingAlso try indoor skating, bowling and indoor playgroundsTake in a museum. Walk a mall or an art gallery
***Your challenge: Think about ways squeeze in 20-30 minutes of physical activity every day. Find ways that you like to keep moving, and it doesn’t have to be at the gym.
Take Care, Sara