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9 ways to stay active during the holiday season - even when you may not want to

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Sticking with a regular exercise routine can be challenging on any given week, day, or hour. But when the holidays roll around, it can feel sort of impossible, especially if you’re on a weight care journey. You’re not alone. In fact, according to a Gallup poll, exercise habits dip to all-time lows in the fall and winter months, with many people deciding to pick back up when January 1 hits. (Not surprisingly, getting more exercise was a top 2022 resolution.)

But your movement doesn’t have to hit pause during the holidays, even with all the travel, craziness, and company. In fact, it may be more important to try to fit in activity this time of year—to help stave off the winter blues. 

We’re not suggesting you hunt down a yoga class in whatever town you’re traveling to or go for your usual 40-minute walk. (Though if you can, cool.) We’re talking about ways to fit in small bits of movement here and there. They count! And keeping up with some amount of movement can make it easier for you to get back into your usual weight care routine once the holiday madness is over.

Check out these nine science-backed strategies to help keep your activity going into the New Year.

3 Ways to Slip in Movement

  1. Maximize everyday activities Things you already do, like scrubbing the floors or shoveling snow, come with serious health benefits. In fact, the majority of calories you burn each day may come from these NEAT activities (non-exercise activity thermogenesis—meaning movement outside of planned exercise). Research has shown that focusing more on everyday movement such as walking to the store instead of driving, taking the stairs, playing with your kids, or strolling through the airport during a layover may be the key to weight control. 

  2. Plan for a 10-15 minute walk after meals Aside from helping you digest your food, going for a stroll post-meal can improve blood sugar control by increasing insulin sensitivity, and has also been tied to weight loss. Research shows that upping physical activity by even 10 minutes a day may even lead to a longer life. What we’re saying is that 10 minutes is better than zero.

  3. Make it a family affair Movement is always more fun with company. Think of how you can be active together: Go ice skating, bounce around an indoor trampoline park, play touch football, go roller skating, or even create a Strava challenge with the family. Nothing like some good ol’ friendly competition! 

Be Prepared

  1. Pack exercise equipment Tennis shoes, a yoga mat, or resistance bands can all be thrown in a suitcase without taking up much room. No room in your luggage? You can do body-weight exercises like planks and push-ups in your hotel room.

  2. Think about what types of exercise you’ll do If you plan ahead, you’ll be more likely to stick with it. (There’s research, people.) Whether you’re hitting the gym, using an app, or just thinking about when you’ll be able to go for a walk, decide what you want your routine to look like this holiday season. And then schedule it like any other event. Need some ideas? Check out some of Found’s favorite workouts that can be done in as little as 10 minutes! 

  3. Sign up for group fitness classes If you need an excuse to get out of the house, this one's for you! During the holidays, gyms often have fun themes that make working out more enjoyable and motivating. Also, many gyms have discounted rates for visitors. So do some digging to find a local gym or studio ahead of time.

Think outside the box with movement

  1. Meaningful engagement Think volunteering and serving. Not only does this reduce sedentary time at home, but you also tend to feel better when helping others. This time of year can come with increased anxiety and stress—whether it’s due to the time and energy spent preparing, family functions, or financial stress. Research shows that poor mental health is a big risk factor for obesity. This may be because many of us turn to food to cope with emotions and often become more sedentary when feeling down. “There are so many ways to be active that include your heart, mind, and soul,” explains Found coach Megan Merchant, MS, NBH-HWC.

  2. Crank up the holiday jams Get your groove on for 2-3 songs while waiting for the food to cook. It’s not only fun but jamming to some Mariah Carey or Michael Bublé can have some serious health benefits. In fact, a quick 5-10 minute moderate-intensity cardio sesh three times per day can improve blood pressure! 

  3. Be active while sitting Did you know that you can be active while watching football with the fam? Seated exercises are a great option for those with overweight or obesity who experience pain during exercise. Pull out that exercise band for some bicep curls. Or do isometric squeezes with a pillow: place the pillow between your knees, engage your core, exhale while you squeeze the pillow for a count of three, and then inhale and slowly release your knees and core for a count of three. (That’s one rep!) Repeat for a total of ten.  

 Inspired? Good. Remember, getting some movement is better than none and the best exercise is the one you enjoy - as you’re more likely to commit. Your routine will likely look different this time of year, and that’s OK! Just get out there, have some fun, and show yourself some grace. 

Found offers a science-backed approach to weight care that's based on your unique biology, psychology, lifestyle, and prescription medication needs. Members receiving medication plus behavior change support from Found lost at least 13% more weight, and in some cases up to 229% more, compared to people receiving the same medication in clinical studies. To start your journey with Found, take our quiz.

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  • (M. Merchant, personal communication, Nov 17, 2022.)
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