The holiday season can be a challenging time to begin or maintain a fitness regimen. If you plan on traveling or have a busy schedule, your regular exercise routine could be disrupted. Follow these tips to stay active over the next few months, even if your calendar is full.

Plan ahead

Devise your holiday fitness routine before you get busy. Before going out of town, check the hours and options for the gym or pool at your hotel or near where you’re staying. If you are staying with family or friends, ask whether they have equipment you can use, where you can walk or run, or if you can be a guest at their gym during your stay. Set holiday fitness goals, and consult your schedule to see when you can exercise. It might be easiest to exercise before the day’s activities or perhaps do some yoga before bed.

Be mobile

If you won’t have access to your regular fitness equipment over the holidays, pack lightweight exercise gear that you can use during your trip. Running or walking shoes, resistance bands, a jump rope, and a yoga mat should fit in a large overnight bag. You can download an exercise app or bookmark some YouTube workout videos before your trip that can substitute for your usual fitness class or routine.

Work out in quick spurts

If you find yourself short of time, add a little movement throughout your day. Even small bursts of physical activity can help maintain or improve or maintain your level of fitness. It only takes five minutes or less to do a few jumping jacks, burpees, or push-ups, any of which can improve your cardiovascular health and strengthen your major muscle groups.

Try something different

A fun way to keep active over the holidays is to start a new tradition with family and friends. You could complete a festive fun run together and agree to sign up for the race again next year. Or you could start an annual game of touch football or soccer. 

Get into the spirit

Whether you are hosting this year or going out of town, you can get in extra steps by heading out on foot to see neighborhood holiday lights or by joining friends and family for some festive Christmas caroling. For even more festive calorie-burning, drive to a light-show exhibit in the area, which will entice you to walk for hours.

Go shopping

You can give yourself the gift of extra fitness this holiday season by turning shopping trips into mini exercise sessions. Wear comfortable shoes, and walk to nearby shops instead of driving. If you drive to do your shopping, park as far away from the stores as possible to get in extra walking. Skip escalators and elevators, and take the stairs instead. Carrying those holiday packages can provide an extra fitness boost during your shopping trip.

Gift experiences

Instead of wrapped gifts, give friends and family active experiences they can share with you, like indoor rock climbing, skiing, or a round of golf. If you can schedule this activity over the holidays, you’ll both get the added benefit of doing something healthy during a season fraught with roadblocks against maintaining healthy habits and fitness routines.

Play with kids

Children often have excess exuberance, so join them if you can! Play with them in the backyard, toss a Frisbee with them, or take them with you to explore the neighborhood. The little ones (and their parents) will appreciate the chance to burn off some energy, and you will get the opportunity to work toward your holiday fitness goals.

Walk your dog

With the busyness of the holidays, it’s tempting to skip regular walks with your dog, but even just one stroll a day with your four-legged friend can boost both their fitness and yours. If you and your canine are up for it, take brisker walks or tackle steeper terrain to get more physical benefits out of your time together.