Calories: 10 Ways to Burn Off Holiday Calories (cont.)

Combine a few of our calorie-burning tips -- shopping, cooking, walking -- and do a good deed in the process.

"Gently increase holiday season activity by making goodies for your neighbors."

You can gently increase holiday season activity, says Comana, by making goodies for your neighbors, then taking a brisk stroll around the neighborhood to drop off your homemade gifts.

Or burn about 700 calories an hour participating in a holiday fund-raising race, such as the Arthritis Foundation's Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis, held in various U.S. cities in December.

Locate all kinds of races near you at www.coolrunning.com. Good deeds and a good body -- what a gift!

7. Travel Your Way Trim

When the temptations at home are just too great, escape them by getting away for the holidays, suggests Diane V. Dillard, a home health professional in Port Richey, Fla.: "Get away for a ski trip, go ice-skating -- go do the things you're always wanting to do anyway."

Even getting from here to there provides opportunities to burn calories, says Griffiths.

"If you have to travel, be sure to wheel your own bags, only take what you can carry on, and lift the bags yourself," says Griffiths.

And don't forget to walk, walk, walk. Walk between terminals, take the stairs, stroll between gates while you wait. "Even if you're on the moving walkway -- walk!" Griffiths says.

8. Sit Tight and Work Out

Every holiday includes downtime when family or friends gather around the television for a parade, a game, or a favorite old movie. Why not use that time to burn a few calories?

"Instead of sitting with your full butt on the couch, get to the end of your seat and bend your legs up off the floor, hands on the seat to give you balance, and do crunches," says Nieca Goldberg, MD, chief of Women's Cardiac Care at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

Goldberg also recommends getting your triceps trim by doing dips off the edge of the couch (or airport seat), firming your thighs with seated leg lifts, and building biceps by grabbing a water bottle and doing curls.

A workout in your comfy chair? It's a Wonderful Life indeed!

9. Maximize Motivation With More People

To keep her motivation at peak, Griffiths gets fired up with group fitness classes. "Being in a group can really help motivate you," she says.

Gyms and rec centers offer all kinds of classes to choose from, from spinning, yoga, and aerobics to ballet, kickboxing, aquacising, and Pilates.

Want something more free-form? Get a group of friends and family to join you outside for an hour of making snow angels, sledding, searching for the last colorful leaves, hiking, or ice-skating.

A bonus: Workouts with loved ones not only keep everyone's calorie counts in check, but exercising together can help build stronger relationships, too.

10. Here's a bonus holiday fitness tip: Just set a goal. Having a specific objective is a great way to motivate yourself, Griffiths says. Share your plan and goals with your primary care doctor.

"Set goals for how many workouts you want to get in during the week," Griffith says.

Even if it's fewer than you usually do during the rest of the year, be sure to reward yourself for meeting your objectives.

So How Much Exercise Do You Need?

Instead of tackling a weight loss regimen over the holidays, most experts suggest you simply aim for maintenance.

To stay in a steady weight state, get 30 minutes of moderate activity daily, says Jenny Graddy, coordinator of group fitness and wellness at University of Florida Recreational Sports in Gainesville, Fla.

You can rack up that 30 minutes throughout the day, Graddy stresses. Go for a 10-minute walk in the morning, play actively with your kids in the afternoon, then walk the dog before dinner, and you're there.

With the holiday hustle and bustle upon us, Griffiths reminds us that staying fit during this time is not as hard as you may think.

"Folks think they have to suffer to get fit, but they don't," she says. "They just have to get up and move!"

Originally published Nov. 18, 2005.
Medically updated November 2006.


SOURCES: Shannon Griffiths, group fitness director, Lakeshore Athletic Club, Boulder, Colo. Julia C. Jackson, owner, Friends in Fitness Corporate Wellness and Personal Training, Pleasanton, Calif. Fabio Comana, exercise physiologist, American Council on Exercise, San Diego, Calif. Diane Proud, running pro, Cooper Fitness Center, Dallas. Diane V. Dillard, home health professional, Port Richey, Fla. Nieca Goldberg, MD, chief of women's cardiac care, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York. Jenny Graddy, coordinator, group fitness and wellness, University of Florida Recreational Sports, Gainesville, Fla. American Heart Association.

©2006 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.


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