Making time for fitness can be challenging even on the best of days. Throw holiday chaos into the mix and it’s tempting to give up until January first rolls around. While tempting, doing away with your current regimen and healthy food choices can lead to more stress and potentially unwanted weight gain.
Instead, use these tips to make time for fitness during the holidays. If anything, a workout will give you much-needed time to yourself between hectic family activities and the drama that comes with it.
Running is one of the best on-the-go fitness activities that you can do. You don’t need a gym, and as far as equipment, the only necessity is a good pair of running shoes. Running is also a proven stress buster—and in fact, this the second most popular reason people start running, according to a 2016 running survey. That runner’s high will help you laugh through the stresses of the season while staying healthy and feeling great.
Make Your Social Outings Active
There’s no doubt that your calendar is filled with plans, ranging from work celebrations to family gatherings. If possible, suggest that the group do something active at some point during the event or hangout, like hiking, walking, or sledding. After a few hours, everyone will feel better kicking back for a relaxing rest of the day—yourself included.
If you don’t normally keep a calendar with a workout schedule, it’s time to make a temporary change. Planning your workouts ahead of time could be key to helping you stay on track with your fitness goals. To do this, follow a simple process:
List all of your non-negotiables, including specific family events, holiday parties, kid’s sports, and work. Look for gaps in the calendar. With just 15 minutes in the morning, you could do this home workout from Fitness Blender. If you have an afternoon open, and no extra time for the following three days, perhaps you schedule an hour-long workout to make the most of this free time.
Make fitness as important as every other obligation this season and you’re more likely to stick with it.
Find a Workout Buddy
One of the best ways to stay motivated is to workout with someone else. Find a partner that has the same time available and preferably same gym or fitness activity (if you both like to walk or run, you can do that together) and hold each other accountable over the holidays. Not only will this keep you accountable to another person, but friendly competition may push you to do more with the time you have, while also making it feel more like a catch-up session rather than a chore.
Start Taking Classes
Taking fitness classes has a similar affect as a workout buddy: “Meeting the others in the group will help hold you accountable for showing up each day. They will help motivate you during the workout, too,” says Tara Rochford of the National Institute for Fitness and Sport.
Choose 2 to 3 classes each week, or as many as your schedule will allow, and sign up at the beginning of the week. If you’ve already paid, you’re less likely to bail.
Use an App
If you know none of these ideas will motivate you to make time for fitness during the holidays, put something you don’t want to lose on the line: money. There are many apps that allow you to place bets on whether or not you’ll reach certain goals or stick with your schedule. In some cases, like if you’re part of a DietBet, and you do stick with it, you’ll actually earn money—we can all use more cash this time of year.
A few other apps to check out, include:
Stay Fit This Season
This busy season keeps you on your feet, but that’s not enough to stay on track with your health and fitness goals. Make time for workouts by scheduling them in, finding a workout buddy, or putting enough money on the line that you won’t bail. When the tree is down and the house guests are gone, you’ll be glad you made time for yourself in the craziness of the holiday season.
BIO: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a full-time content consultant, ACE Certified Personal Trainer mental health advocate. She’s also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Honest Body Fitness, an online health magazine for women. She’s written for Shape, Reader’s Digest, AARP, Snap Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and more. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.