Though not officially winter for another couple of weeks, temperatures are dropping across the country. For many, the desire to keep up with a fitness routine decreases in kind.
This holiday season, make it a goal to incorporate new ways to stay active and help ward off potential celebration-driven weight gain. The time is now to plan your winter exercise routine.
- Go holiday shopping. Skip the Internet this year, and instead go walk around the mall or through the Main Street shops, even if it’s just to peep the window decorations. At a moderate pace, 60 minutes could burn around 238 calories. Standing in line? Burn a few more calories by marching in place or doing small side-steps!
- Don’t pay the neighbor kids to clear your walkways when it storms. If you are physically able, shoveling snow with moderate effort can burn roughly 410 calories for 1 hours’ worth of work.
- But first, clean up your lawn before the snow actually starts falling. Raking up those crunchy autumn leaves will shave off around 273 calories per hour of moderately-paced work.
- Making a big holiday dinner? All of that cooking and cleaning around the kitchen can burn about 225 calories per hour. If you’re a guest, ask the host if there is anything you can do to help – they’ll appreciate the gesture, and you can feel good about small steps to improve your health.
- Skip the wrapping station, and decorate the gifts yourself. Not only will it save money, it can add another 88 calories burned per hour! (Lucky, your family and friends – that’s a lot of presents!)
- Tear yourself away from the holiday TV and movie marathons, at least briefly. Use commercial breaks (or set a timer for every 30 minutes during a streaming movie) as “activity breaks” – walk around, do squats, leg-lifts or kicks, bring back the jumping-jack and grapevine, bounce on a small trampoline, etc.
- Have an active social life – literally. Instead of weekend brunch or chatting at a café over lattes, ask your family or friends to go sledding, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, for a (friendly) snowball fight, or to play a pick-up game of flag football.
Unless braving the brisk winter elements is your thing, you don’t have to bundle up in layer after layer for a workout. You don’t necessarily need fancy shoes or clothes either; nor do you even have to leave the house or your cubicle! As long as you move your body, any activity is beneficial.
When you can, absolutely plan to sneak in some dedicated exercise time – whether outside or in. Otherwise, make life easier this holiday season, and utilize some of our calorie-burning suggestions above. For more ideas, try in-home workout videos on YouTube or smart phone apps, and check out this Food & Nutrition Magazine article. Don’t let the winter blahs get the best of you!
(All calorie data  is based on a 150-lb adult.)
1. MET values from Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise study “2011 Compendium of Physical Activities: A Second Update of Codes and MET Values,” by BE Ainsworth, WL Haskell, SD Hermann, N Meckes, DR Basset, Jr., C. Tudor-Locke, JL Greer, J Vezina, MC Whitt-Glover, and AS Leon