Seventh Day of Stress-less Christmas: Exercise!

We’re into the home stretch of the Twelve Days of Stress Less Christmas, tips and tricks for how you can have a more joyous and less stressful holiday.  Since we’re getting down to the wire, posts will be short and to the point.  While I love to write, I’ve got a lot to do these days.  And if there is one thing that I refuse to take off my daily agenda, it’s exercise.  


Countless studies have shown the benefits of exercise on mental health.  Not only does exercise have physical benefits (weight control, strengthening of muscles and bones), but exercise also has many cognitive and emotional benefits (improves mood, increases happiness, decreases stress).  

I have been teaching in group fitness for a long time (since 2001).  One thing that we see during the holidays – every year, without fail – is a decrease in attendance and participation during the holidays.  People are busy, they are up late, they’ve had parties/shopping/wrapping/you-name-it.  When your To Do List is over-flowing, it is easy to cut your workout and just promise to get to it after the New Year, right?  Wrong.

Don’t you remember Tip #5 – make time for you?  You need to schedule in your daily workout (even if it is just 30 minutes) as that time for yourself.  Here are some tips for getting it done:

  • Work out first thing in the morning.  It has been proven that people who work out early in the morning are less like to skip their workout.  It is less likely that something will come up to derail the plan to exercise.  5:15 am workouts can seem daunting at first, but once you get into that flow, you will love having it done and over first thing in the morning.  
  • Try 30 minute HIIT workouts.  HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training.  Instead of doing a cardio machine (steady state work for 30 minutes), in a HIIT workout you do intervals of all-out high intensity work followed by short intervals of active rest.  This works your body harder.  Sheehan Tabata provides a HIIT workout in 30 minutes – and it’s amazing!
  • Lunchtime Walk:  Luckily for us, we’re not terribly snow-covered yet.  I keep sneakers in my car which makes it easy to switch into them for a walk before the weather truly gets winter-like.

It’s so easy to say I don’t have time to work out, but it is not a good solution for a Stress Less Christmas.  You really won’t get much more time back by skipping and you’ll miss out on all those great rewards from your workout.  Do yourself a favor and keep up the exercise now and after Christmas too.  Next week, even if you’re on vacation – it’s a great week to try a new class or a personal training session.