Staying Fit With Interval Training Throughout the Holiday Season

At-Home Holiday Fitness Solutions

home workout for the holidays
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If you're going to ditch your workout at some point during the year, it's probably going to be during the holiday season. Between travel plans, kids' school activities, family gatherings, shopping, cooking, and attending various holiday parties, your schedule gets slammed with new obligations, which makes it easy to push workouts by the wayside.

But here's why you shouldn't ditch your workout this year, especially during the holiday season:

  1. Exercise Is a Stress Reliever. Even if you love the holidays, it can be stressful. See the list of reasons above.
  2. Exercise Helps Counterbalance Wayward Nutrition. The holiday season is the time of year when you're most likely to enjoy a few extra cocktails, a smorgasbord of Christmas cookies, and your fair share of turkey and ham. While you should still approach all that food with moderation, as long as you're maintaining an exercise routine, you can feel confident that your extra calorie consumption won't undo all the hard work you've done throughout the year.
  3. Exercise Keeps You Centered and On Track. When everything in your life gets thrown a bit off-course, it's incredibly balancing to have one or two go-to routines that help you maintain a sense of normalcy. By maintaining your weekly workout, you'll be able to comfortably carry yourself through the holiday season and into the new year without having to try to re-calibrate your life after January 1st.
  1. Exercise Boosts Mood. Sure, the holidays should be happy, but how often have you found yourself snapping at your spouse or feeling irritated with your kids, just because your life feels out of whack? Exercise releases endorphins that can boost mood and help you maintain a positive outlook.
  2. Exercise Improves Productivity. Individuals who exercise regularly have better mental focus and are more productive than those who exercise infrequently. When you've got a lot on your plate, squeezing fitness into your day can actually help you tackle everything else more efficiently.

    How to Make a Holiday Fitness Routine Work

    • Choose Short, High-Intensity Interval Routines. The good news is, you don't have to commit to long workouts. Short, intense bursts of exercise can be as, or even more, effective than longer, steady-state training. By aiming for three to five workouts a week, each lasting between 20 and 45 minutes, you'll reap the benefits of exercise while maintaining (or even improving) your current level of fitness.
    • Stay at Home. If you're worried about time, skip the drive to the gym. That alone can shave off 10 to 40 minutes of your designated workout time, depending on where your gym's located. And believe it or not, you don't have to have a gym to stay fit. You don't even need any special fitness equipment to do the job. Focus on bodyweight training exercises that significantly increase your heart rate while challenging your major muscle groups.
    • Follow a Program. Your best bet for sticking to a workout routine during the holidays, especially if you plan to exercise at home, is to follow an actual program. It can be tough to plan and execute your own workouts, especially if you're not quite sure how to get started. Check Pinterest and YouTube to seek out free programs, or sign up for a streaming online video service to follow trainer-led classes at home. 

      Use This Sample Interval Workout

      As an example of the type of interval training program you should follow, try this Tabata-based interval routine.

      Tabata Workout

      When performing a Tabata workout, set a Tabata timer on your computer or smartphone so it gives you eight interval periods, each with 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. In other words, you'll perform 20 seconds of work, then you'll rest for 10 seconds, repeating this cycle eight total times. Each Tabata lasts a total of four minutes.

      This Tabata workout includes four, four-minute Tabatas.

      Tabata #1: Skaters

      • Perform 8 sets of 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest.

      Tabata #2: Mountain Climbers

      • Perform 8 sets of 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest.

      Tabata #3: Moguls

      • Perform 8 sets of 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest.

      Tabata #4: Bear Squats

      • Perform 8 sets of 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest.

       

      Sources:

      Balchin R, Linde J, Blackhurst D, Rauch HG. "Sweating away depression? The impact of intensive exercise on depression." Journal of Affective Disorders.  http://www.jad-journal.com/article/S0165-0327(16)30085-4/abstract. Vol. 200 Pg. 218-221. August 2016.

      Kongstad MB, Christensen JR, Sjogaard G, Sogaard K. "The effect of physical fitness and physical exercise training on work productivity among health care workers." 20th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science. http://www.forskningsdatabasen.dk/en/catalog/2284001709. 2015. 

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