Holiday cakes, and cookies, and pies, and cocktails, and dressing and casserole and…does it seem like just reading the names of your favorite holiday foods makes you gain a couple pounds? Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve…the holidays cause many of us to eat a little too much, and to miss a few too many workouts.
Here’s what health and fitness pros have to say about simple tips that can help you burn off some of those celebratory calories.
1. Embrace Those Chores
The scenario: The holiday office party causes you to miss your yoga class, company’s coming tonight, and the house is a mess.
“Housework is the best way to fit in a workout without even knowing it,” says Shannon Griffiths, group fitness director for Lakeshore Athletic Club in Boulder, Colo. Scrubbing, sweeping, vacuuming … they all burn calories.
Even cooking fires up the calorie furnace, says Griffiths, especially if you’re moving around the kitchen. So put on perky music and boogie down while you bake.
“I like to use shopping as exercise, too,” says Griffiths, who maintains that the best thing about going to the mall is all the walking. “That translates into a calorie burn.”
To maximize that burn, Griffith recommends carrying your own holiday packages, then unloading them after every stop.
“If you’re going to buy something at 10 different shops, go out to your car between each store,” Griffiths says.
To encourage yourself to make those multiple trips to the parking lot or to take the mall stairs instead of elevators, Griffiths recommends wearing a pedometer.
“A pedometer really encourages you to … get moving,” she says. “You have to go shopping, so you might as well get a workout as you’re doing it!”
Keep your pace brisk and you can burn 250-300 calories an hour.
3. Make Snow Your Ally
When it’s snowing, it’s time to bundle up and enjoy the free gym outside.
“The best calorie-burners are those that bring the heart rate up to a cardiovascular training zone,” says Julia C. Jackson, owner of Friends in Fitness Corporate Wellness and Personal Training in California. For most healthy people, the American Heart Association recommends an exercise target heart rate ranging from 50% to 75% of your maximum heart rate, which is normally calculated as the number 220 minus your age.
For most of us, walking is the easiest way to burn a few extra calories during busy times.
The trick (after a good warm-up) is to keep your pace strong, says Diane Proud, a running pro at the Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas. Try power walking, high-stepping, or climbing stadium stairs. According to Proud, such activities fire up major muscle groups like the quads and gluteals.
“Recruiting more muscle fibers during a workout is like stoking a fire … the embers burn for a longer period,” she says. That means even when you’re lounging by the fire later, you’ll still be burning away extra calories.
If you keep up a moderate walking pace, expect to burn 250-300 calories hourly.
5. Be Nice
Combine a few of our calorie-burning tips — shopping, cooking, walking — and do a good deed in the process.