Exercise is more important than ever during the holiday season.
Our routines are disrupted by extraordinary social obligations, shopping, fixing up the house for company, and maybe also year-end personal business and work demands -- all of which conspires to take the wind out of our sails in the realm of exercise.
But in fact we need to make exercise a real priority right now. Otherwise the pounds will pack on, our sleep will be disrupted and our stress levels can get into the danger zone.
There are a couple of built-in "positives" about the season that can make exercising easier. The weather, for one: in some parts of the country, winter has not locked itself in and your local conditions might actually be perfect for long walks, hikes or jogs--whatever your fitness level permits.
If you have a yard, raking leaves or prettying up your landscape can be great exercise, or if you live where winter is already rearing its head, then snow removal (done carefully) really burns calories, too.
Even shopping can provide exercise opportunities. Get to the mall early and do a couple of (or a few) loops around the shops before you slow down to hit the stores. Instead of trying to find a parking place near a store entrance, go to the farthest outer corner of the lot and walk. Walk back to the car with purchases and return again. Take the stairs rather than escalators or elevators within the mall or department stores.
Because of all the social outings we're getting into, I have been ramping up my exercise time by small increments. In addition to a morning walk of 45 minutes, I try to take a 15-minute walk at lunch. On weekends, I bump that 45 minutes up to 60 minutes and also hit the gym. I try to jog part of the way and/or add more hills into my route.
Holiday travel is another potential saboteur of exercise. Depending on the location and circumstances, I will look for a gym or at the very least be sure that I walk a lot, and at an aerobic pace for at least 30 minutes a day.
Bottom line: be vigilant about looking for exercise opportunities wherever you can find them. Five or ten minutes here and there add up over the course of a day, and your body will thank you come New Year's Day!