According to the National Institutes of Health, most Americans add a pound over the holidays from the sheer amount of food and inactivity. For some, though, it can be as much as six pounds. Along with the benefit of avoiding the holiday weight-gain, sneaking in holiday exercise can help you manage blood sugar.
The best news?
You can use that holiday running around to get in some exercise. Here’s how:
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1. Shop In Real Life—Not Online
When you’re being an online Santa, you’re burning as many calories as watching television. Instead, get out there and shop the mall, parking far away from the entrance. Don’t be one of those people waiting on a parking spot close to the store. You’ll get in a good walk even before you shop. For a better workout: Don’t dilly-dally between stores; keep up a strong, steady pace as you move between shops. For an even-better calorie-burning workout, make trips to the car to stow bags instead of carrying them around.
2. Clear Drives and Sidewalks With a Shovel
A snow blower is handy, but when you shovel your driveway by hand, you’re getting a chore done and burning about 400 calories an hour, based on a 150-pound person. For a better workout: Technique matters in snow shoveling. Spare your back those aches and pains; keep your spine straight and lift with your back and hips while rotating sideways. Don’t bend forward at the waist or pick up snow with just your arms. Snow shoveling should be a whole-body workout!
3. Intensely Clean Your House
You might be surprised to learn that the typical moves you make when house cleaning (such as reaching up for cobwebs or picking up kids’ toys) are similar to gym-type exercises and stretches. So, take advantage of your holiday cleaning by being very thorough. Even vacuuming burns about 240 calories per hour For a better workout: Brief spurts of high-intensity effort can benefit your heart. Take a few trips up and down the stairs. Move furniture for extra deep cleaning and more of a workout. When your house is clean, you’ve likely burned as many calories as taking a long walk.
4. Create a New (Physical) Tradition
So many of our family traditions are based on food Grandma’s famous peach cobbler, Aunt Jean’s delicious dressing. For a change, try making some form of physical activity a tradition. Mixing the social and exercise activities during a holiday means you’ll all burn some of those extra calories. For a better workout: Don’t limit yourself to just one activity; find something that everyone will enjoy. Go ice-skating or play a quick game of basketball. Also, there are often charity walks during the holidays. Make them your annual tradition.