8 Family-Friendly Holiday Fitness Tips

Dashing between shopping trips, Christmas parties, family events and regular work engagements makes it hard to figure out how to fit fitness into your schedule. The trick to staying healthy during the holiday season is to plan ahead and make the season work for you. You may not be able to hit the gym for your regular spin class, but that doesn't mean you have to forgo exercise altogether.

Holiday Exercise Outings

You probably have a number of family traditions during the holiday season. Maybe you host an annual Christmas party, or you set a day aside for cookie and tree decorating. This year, decide to start new holiday traditions that revolve around a physical activity. Here are a few ideas:

  • Drive to the neighborhood in your city known for having the best Christmas lights, then spend an evening walking around the neighborhood while enjoying the scenery.

  • Sign up for a holiday 5K run or walk in your area. A number of cities offer holiday-themed events with names like "Jingle Bell 5K Run Walk" or "Reindeer Run." You and the kids can spend a Saturday morning enjoying exercise as a family.

  • Make the most of your shopping trip and hoof it around the mall. Print off your local mall's online store map and plot out all the stores you need to visit. Instead of planning to hit the stores in the most convenient way possible, plot out a track that requires you to walk the greatest distance between each store. Start at a department store at one end of the mall, park on the opposite side, and walk all the way there. You'll get your shopping and your cardio workout in at the same time.

Increase Activity at Home

One of your best resources for staying on the (exercise) ball this season is your family. This is particularly true if you have young children who love rules.

  • Sit down together and come up with an exercise reward system.

  • Make a poster that plots out all the members of your family and their daily activity.

  • Give a sticker for every day that a family member accumulates 30 minutes of exercise.

  • Turn it into a competition and add rewards. The first person to accumulate seven stickers chooses the movie on movie night.

  • Make sure everyone feels equally motivated to participate. Create a large prize if everyone in the family reaches a goal.

If your kids know something really fun is on the line they won't let you get through a day without exercise.

Make it Work for You

Every family is different. These exercise tips won't work for everyone. Use them as a resource to think creatively and come up with a solution that you can stick to this holiday season.

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Laura Williams writes about exercise and fitness for Exercise.com through her regular column "Exercise Science". She is currently completing her master's in Exercise Science.

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