Between the Halloween candy, pumpkin pie and sugary holiday cookies, end-of-the-year weight gain is a real possibility. In fact, one study found that Americans experience a weight increase of 0.2 percent over the Thanksgiving holiday and 0.4 percent around Christmas. While you'll likely indulge here and there over the holiday season, that doesn't mean you have to pack on the pounds. Ramping up your fitness routine now will help keep the holiday weight gain at bay and give you a great fitness foundation as you launch into your goals for the new year.
Sign up for a Turkey Trot or Holiday Half
Need motivation to keep moving as the days get shorter and the holiday goodies begin appearing in the break room? It's not too late to sign up for a holiday fun run, whether that's a Thanksgiving Day turkey trot or a late-December holiday half. Paying the entry fee and committing to a race can be just the thing to keep you focused on your fitness goals during the time of year when you might be more inclined to Netflix and chill. If you're new to walking or running, finding a couch-to-5K training plan online will help prepare you for race day.
Add Weight Training to Your Cardio Routine
If your workout is all cardio and no resistance training, now is the time to incorporate weights into your fitness routine. Everyone knows that lifting weights builds muscle, so you'll tone up over time, but lifting also increases your metabolism because muscle burns more calories when your body is at rest. Begin lifting now and reap the benefits during the holiday season.
Incorporate Interval Training
Interval training is an effective way to ramp up your fitness routine because high-intensity interval training burns more calories in a shorter period of time than longer, less-intense activities like walking. To begin interval training, incorporate short bursts of speed into your workout. For example, if you normally jog at a 10-minute-per-mile pace, adding a quick 10 second sprint after every 5 minutes of running will help you zap calories and improve your endurance over time.
Try out a New Class
It's easy to fall into a fitness rut after adhering to the same routine for months at a time, and when your workout becomes a bore, it's easier to skip it. Mix things up and keep your workout fun by signing up for a new class, whether that's spin or Zumba or BodyPump. Not only will you have fun and work new muscles, but your commitment to class will keep you showing up throughout the holidays.
Put Your Go-To Workout Aside Completely
When you've done the same workout for a long time your body adapts to your workout-of-choice and gradually causes you to plateau. Trick your body into continually burning more by switching up your workout completely this holiday season. Normally a swimmer? Try running. If you're a walker, turn that first mile into a jog. Your body will not only burn calories at a higher rate, but you may find a new workout that you love as well.
Add an Additional Day
Even those of us that are bad at math know that adding an additional day of exercise will burn more calories, and that extra weekly workout may be just the thing that keeps the holiday pounds away. Even if you can't fit an additional workout into your schedule, see if you can't add 10 more minutes to your cardio routine or an extra rep during weight lifting.
Walk Instead of Drive
Not every workout has to end in a cascade of sweat. As simple as it sounds, consciously making small choices to be more active around the holidays can help you stay fit. Whether you bike to the grocery store instead of drive or spend your 15-minute break at work walking around the block, making a conscious effort to add some extra steps to your day will burn additional calories over the holidays and keep you mentally healthy, too, during the height of seasonal depression.
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