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SHAREABLE RESOURCE: Give Thanks and Do Planks A Holiday Survival Guide

DeSimone, Grace T. B.A.

doi: 10.1249/FIT.0000000000000333
Departments: Fitness Focus
Free

The advent of November reminds us that the busiest season of the year will soon be upon us. Plan ahead with these health and fitness tips to make wellness a top priority and you will be ahead of your January resolution.

Block it. Open your calendar and block out 30 minutes a day for a quick wellness activity. We schedule absolutely everything but personal time. Make time for your health and well-being. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Plan it. If you have access to a gym for a workout, that’s great. If you don’t have a gym, plan an outdoor walk or a walk in a shopping mall or large department store. Don’t want to leave the house? Choose bodyweight exercises like stair climbing, rope jumping, or try an exercise app. Time crunched? Try the 7-minute solution app.

Extra credit. If you are exercising diligently already, add 5 to 10 extra minutes per workout a few days per week to help offset the inevitable extra calorie intake. You’ll hardly notice the extra time and you’ll skim through the holidays without gaining a pound.

Make it social. Bring a friend, coworker, or family member or grab a headset and phone a friend while you’re active. Time will fly. Instead of meeting at a restaurant for appetizers and drinks, try a nature walk instead. You will burn calories and enjoy the quality time.

Shop in shape. If you shop online use your time savings for activity. If you shop in person, get your steps in by doing a lap around the mall, store, or parking lot before or after you shop.

Track it. Use a fitness tracker or smart phone to track your steps. Aim for 2,000 additional steps per day during the holiday season to help with holiday indulgences.

Travel fit. If you are traveling for the holidays, avoid sitting in airports or bus stations. Move about and collect some steps. You can combat long periods of sitting by moving every 45 to 60 minutes. If you can’t get up, try chair marching for 2 minutes (lift and lower your legs while seated) or stand up and lean back then move your arms and legs to boost circulation.

Take 2. Sometimes you just need to breathe. Take 2 minutes to refresh your energy and focus. Close your eyes and listen to your breath as you inhale for a count of 4, then exhale for a count of 4. Add a count with each breath until you can count to 10 on each inhale and exhale.

The power of 10. Take 10 minutes and do each of the following exercises for 1 minute: push-up, squat, plank, tricep dip, lunge. Repeat. You will get a great total body tune up.

Avoid the rut. Mix up workouts now to avoid a rut later. Add one new element every few weeks — change your route, change your music playlist, work with a trainer, recruit a wellness buddy, try a new piece of equipment or class, or test-drive a fitness app.

Register your goal. Sign up for a race, shout it out on social media, or post it to your fridge. Commit to your goals and share it. Sharing has been shown to increase adherence.

Plan decadence. Decide ahead of time which holiday treats you really want to spend your calories on and stick to those.

Lap the buffet. When you arrive at a party, take a quick survey of the offerings. Ask other guests which dishes they loved so you know how you are spending your calories, then fill your plate with healthy options and save room to indulge in the best options.

Plate it. Instead of noshing on snacks and appetizers, fix yourself a plate of food, filling up on healthy items such as shrimp cocktail, veggies, and greens. You will eat less and feel satisfied.

Drink first. Staying hydrated will help you think clearly and keep your energy up. Thirst often is confused for hunger, so drink plenty of water before eating. If you are indulging in an alcoholic beverage, pair it with a glass of water. This will help with the dehydrating effects of alcohol.

Most importantly, enjoy spending time with friends and loved ones during this bustling time of year.

As the national group fitness director for Optum, Grace T. DeSimone, B.A., and her group fitness teams manage group exercise classes in worksite wellness programs across the country. She serves on the Executive Council of ACSM’s Committee on Certification and Registry Boards. She also is the editor for ACSM’s Resource Manual for Group Exercise Instructors (2011) and is the 2016 IDEA Health & Fitness Association Program Director of the Year. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in dance from Hunter College, City University of New York, in New York, NY and is certified by ACSM as a group exercise instructor and personal trainer.

© 2017 American College of Sports Medicine.