Think you have no time for fitness during the holiday rush? Even if you can't fit in your regular workout routine, it's possible to squeeze in a few moments of exercise to keep yourself on track. Personal trainer Kathleen Trotter shares tips on how to stay healthy without missing out on any of the holiday action.
Train your core as you play on the floor with your kids or grandkids. Start in a V hold position. Lean back 10 degrees. Back straight, core engaged. Rotate right to pick up a toy. Then place it to your left. Repeat in opposite direction. Or, try the transfer in a plank. Start in a plank from your knees or toes, leaning on your forearms. Keep your pelvis stable as you pick your right arm up off of the floor to pick up the toy. Transfer the toy to the left hand. Then pick up your left arm and put the toy down to the left of your body. Keep your core engaged.Then place the toy next to your left elbow. Switch direction.
The home circuit
Can't get to the gym? No problem, strength train at home. You can get a full-body workout with only your own body weight. Try the following circuit: Do 15 step-ups on a kitchen chair, 15 push-ups, 15 squats, 15 lunges and a front plank. Or invest in a resistance band and a door-frame attachment for about $20. The attachment allows you to anchor the band to a door to simulate the exercises you would do with a cable machine.
Just 10 minutes
When you don't want to exercise use the "10-minute rule." I love this rule. I use it almost daily. Tell yourself that you have to do something for a minimum of 10 minutes but that if you want to stop after 10 minutes, you can. Go for a 10-minute walk or jog, do the first 10 minutes of a fitness podcast, or do some body-weight exercises in your living room. Ten minutes of exercise is better than nothing, and usually once you've done 10 minutes you'll continue and finish the workout.
Cardio at home
Who needs a treadmill or Stairmaster? Get your cardio in by running or walking outside. Or run up and down the stairs in your building. After a gentle five-minute warm-up, try this pyramid set of jumping jacks and stair running: do five jumping jacks, run up and down the stairs once, do 10 jumping jacks, run the stairs twice, do 15 jumping jacks, run the stairs three times. Repeat the cycle for 10 to 20 minutes then cool down for five minutes.
Strengthen your heart and burn calories without ever setting foot in a gym. Get your cardio workout in with fartlek intervals. Fartlek intervals are challenging but unstructured, so you can fit in a great interval workout anywhere without fancy equipment. Warm up for five minutes. Then pick a random landmark – such as a stop sign – and speed up until you get there. If you are walking in regular attire, just speed walk towards the landmark. If you are out jogging or out with your dog, run or sprint toward it. Walk or jog to recover. Repeat until it is time to go home or you get to your destination.
The water bottle cure
Uncomfortable party shoes and endless errands can leave feet feeling tired and achy. Use a frozen water bottle to breathe new life into your feet. Place a water bottle in your freezer. Whenever you are cooking, cleaning or even waiting for the kettle to boil, grab the water bottle and use it to "roll" out your feet. In only your socks, place the bottle between your foot and the floor. Put weight on the bottle as you roll the bottle up and down your foot.
Grab the edge of a door frame with one hand. Arm at chest height, almost straight, turn your body gently away from the hand. Feel a slight stretch in your chest and shoulders. Turn your head with your body. Repeat on the opposite arm. Then, reach both arms up toward the top of the door frame. Imagine your entire body is being stretched from head to toes. If you can't touch the frame, just reach up and imagine hanging from the frame.
Work your core
Do this at the office, in front of the TV or even at the breakfast table. Sit on the edge of your chair or sofa. Lean back roughly 10 degrees, back straight. Hold for 10 seconds. If this is easy, try one of these variations. Backstroke: Maintain the above position as you alternate "swimming" your arms backward. Tucks: Keep your upper back straight as you tuck your hip bones to your ribs so your lower spine tucks. Use your lower abdominals to do the tuck.
W to Y
Sit tall in your chair, core engaged. Form a W with your arms in the air. Keep your arms as close to the back of your chair as you can as you straighten them until they form a Y with your body. Make sure your spine stays neutral. It shouldn't arch as you move your arms, even if that means the back of your arms move away from the chair. Return your arms back to the W position and repeat five to 10 times.
Strengthen your glutes
Do this as you wait in line, on an escalator, or as you wait for the microwave to beep. Stand on one leg. Engage your bum muscles of the leg you are standing on. Make sure the weight in your support foot is even. Don't lean. Stay straight as your other leg kicks out to the side 10 times. Then try kicking on a diagonal. Finally try kicking backward 10 times. If you want a challenge stand on an unstable surface like a pillow. If you feel silly exercising in line, ask yourself, "What's better, having tighter glutes or caring what the other people in the store think?" Everyone is probably wishing that they had the self-confidence to exercise while shopping.