Your countdown to holiday health!
Brendan Rolfe, DipA, PTS, NWS
Number of December days leading up to Christmas: 25. Number of calories in one advent calendar chocolate: 25. Number of calories burned opening presents: not enough! Check out our 25-day fitness advent calendar to combat those yummy chocolates and keep you on track!
Does your workout routine get heave-ho-ho-ho’d to the back seat of Santa’s sleigh once December rolls around? If you’re like most people, friends, family, office parties, and shopping commandeers your precious time around the holiday season. Now, more than ever, it’s important to squeeze in those workouts wherever you can. Studies show that even two weeks of physical inactivity can diminish the effects built by regular fitness activities. You already know that exercising for at least 150 minutes a week can increase your fitness and energy while decreasing your chances of developing heart disease, but did you know that just 20 minutes of exercise in a day can significantly reduce feelings of stress? Holiday-induced stress: never heard of it, right? And then there’s the challenge of holiday nutrition bombs. This is where many people claim to struggle the most. Between family gatherings, gifts of chocolate, and endless baked goodies, it can be hard to resist your sweet tooth. But instead of trying to cut or limit particular foods, try turning your focus toward eating more of the good stuff. Not only will fruits, veggies, and whole grains fill you up with vitamins and nutrients before you go out to face all those naughty treats, but foods such as blueberries, Brazil nuts, onions, and black pepper actually contain antioxidants and healthy components that’ll help balance out the eggnog and gingerbread men! Head to your local health food store for the lowdown on supplements to both mitigate the damage of your festive ways and get you the critical vitamins and minerals you need to function more efficiently.
The key to squeezing in a mini-workout during the holiday season is to get creative! We don’t always have time to run to the gym, change out of sweaty clothes, or take a shower, but as I’ve always told my clients, there’s always time for fitness! I call this “sneaky fitness.” In fact, the number-one tip for sneaky fitness I can offer is to actively engage your core throughout the day. Believe it or not, this alone will strengthen your abdominals and core muscles and can help alleviate back pain, plus give you better posture! Here are a few more sneaky ways.
Feeling self-conscious about practising fitness in public? You aren’t alone. Instead of lunging to the water cooler, you can choose to make less conspicuous, but equally effective choices, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, enjoying a walk while eating your lunch, or carrying grocery baskets instead of pushing a cart.
Some turn to chocolates and treats to manage stress during the festive season, but the treats in our fitness advent calendar will help you manage that holiday stress—and keep you fit, happy, and healthy!
You can perform each day’s fitness activity on its own, add it to your regular workout (you high-willpowered son of a gun, you!), or, if you’re feeling ambitious, perform them cumulatively (“12 Days of Christmas” style).
These 25 exercises are all bodyweight-based, so you can do them anywhere at any time—no excuses!
1One 30-second plank
2Two 60-second wall-sits with a 30-second break in between
3Three 10-metre bear crawls
4Four 10-second high-knees intervals with 15-second rest in between
5Five 10-metre hamstring scoops
6Six 40-metre sprints
7Seven walkout push-ups
8Eight jump squats with knee tucks
9Nine downward facing dog to scorpion stretches
10Ten up-and-over push-ups (or knee push-ups)
11Eleven burpees (you knew these were in here somewhere!)
12Twelve side crunches per side
13Thirteen bench dips
14Fourteen reverse lunge step-ups
15Fifteen Superman back extensions
16Sixteen bird dogs
17Seventeen wall angels
18Eighteen lying windshield wipers
19Nineteen crunch and punches
20Twenty mountain climbers
21Twenty-one seconds of foot fire
22Twenty-two stationary side lunges
23Twenty-three jumping jacks
25Twenty-five bodyweight squats