Do you struggle with keeping your exercise routine up during the holidays? Does your motivation to exercise wane over Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays?
If that sounds familiar, don’t worry, you’re not the only one!
Almost everyone struggles with staying active during the holidays. There’s so much disruption, whether you have family staying, are going away or are just out of your normal routine. It can be a very special time, seeing family (especially grandchildren) and celebrating together. But, if your exercise programme is important to you, you can end up feeling frustrated that you didn’t keep it up.
As a specialist exercise instructor for more than 15 years, I’ve helped hundreds of women to feel stronger and improve their balance, posture and mobility.
I’ve realised over time that, however good the exercises may be, people want help to fit them in and make them work in their lives.
Our members all have these challenges too, and we work hard to support them at times like this. In this article I’m going to share what works for keeping up with your exercise routine over the holidays.
Take some time to think about where you’ll be over the upcoming holidays. Think about who you will be with and how you’ll be spending your days. Also think about what’s important to you.
Here are some of the challenges you may face:
- Which of your usual activities (classes etc.) will you miss during this time?
- What venues may be closed (e.g., health club, swimming pool)?
- What equipment might you not have available (e.g., exercise bike or dumbbells you have at home)?
Here are some of the opportunities you may have:
- What different activities could you do? (Perhaps it’s nicer weather and easier to go for walks outdoors.)
- Are there different facilities available (e.g., a pool)?
- Are there any fun ways to stay active with your family and friends?
Make sure to spend as much time thinking about the opportunities as the challenges!
Yes, your usual routine may go out of the window. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop everything. You just have to make a new plan.
Look at your planner and decide what you’re going to do and when. Be specific, so rather than saying ‘I’ll exercise for about half an hour’, commit to do a specific video for 20 minutes. Then you’ll know exactly what to do, and you’ll know when you’re done!
Write it down, put it on the fridge, add calendar reminders in your phone and set alarms to remind you.
You might have to be a little flexible, but if you know what you’ve committed to, then you’re much more likely to do it.
I cannot say this often enough. Make it as easy as you can. There are going to be lots of distractions, so if you want to keep up the exercises, you need to keep it simple.
- Keep your exercise equipment at hand. If you have guests and don’t want it out in the living room, that’s fine. But don’t stash it at the back of a cupboard! Find a temporary home (perhaps in your bedroom?) where you can easily get to it when you need it.
- Have any clothes or shoes you need clean and ready to go. If you have to spend 10 minutes upending laundry baskets to find your exercise clothes (or is that just me?), you may never actually get round to doing the exercises.
- Know what you’re going to do. If you’re not used to exercising at home, find a programme to follow. Online exercise videos can be helpful as you can watch the exercises and follow on. It’s so much easier to keep going, and you don’t feel like you’re alone.
Try this video at home now (it’s a taster video to give you a feel for some of the balance training we do in our online Studio)
If your family and friends are supportive of your exercise goals, it can be extremely helpful. Here are three things you can do to get the support you need from your family and friends over the holidays:
- Explain to them why you’re exercising and why it matters to you.
- Let them know where and when you’re doing your exercises, e.g., “After breakfast, I’ll be doing my exercises in the living room for 20 minutes.”
- Tell them what you need from them or what would be helpful for you, e.g., “Please could you answer the door or phone/ keep pets and grandchildren out of my way/ don’t interrupt unless it’s urgent.”
Take a minute to celebrate the fact that you’ve made the effort and done something for you. At busy times of the year, we can end up giving all our energy to others (especially if that’s what they’ve come to expect). It can be hard to prioritise ourselves and our needs, and we need to celebrate when we do.
Stop and notice how much better you feel after you exercise. Becoming more aware of how you feel – physically and mentally – can help motivate you next time you don’t know if you feel like exercising.
Reward yourself. Plan to have a nice coffee and reminisce with a family member, play holiday games with your grandchildren or enjoy reading a new book for 10 minutes. Knowing you’re doing something you enjoy right after your exercises helps you to keep going (and will wire your brain to see exercise as positive for the future too).
You can find more exercise videos in the Vida Wellness Studio. We offer a 14-day free trial so you can get a chance to try out the exercise videos, ask lots of questions and see if it’s right for you.
How easy do you find it to keep exercising in the holidays? What tips would you share to help others keep up their routine? Join the conversation below!