How can I stay active over the holidays?

How can I stay active over the holidays?

The holidays are a tough time to be healthy. Piles of food, miles in the car, and obligations to see family and friends stand in our way. So how can you stay active in between wrapping your presents, sending out the holiday cards and going to Aunt Sally’s for the annual dinner?

Anna Dark, the fitness director of the Take Charge Fitness Program at Clinton Physical Therapy Center, a Physiquality network member in Clinton, Tenn., suggests fitting in some exercises while you’re out running some errands. Here are a few activities she suggests while shopping at the mall:

  • Park your car as far away from the store as possible in order to walk more.
  • Take stairs rather than riding an elevator or escalator.
  • Walk briskly between stores, or add a recovery lap every 2-3 hours by taking a brisk walk around the mall.
  • Do a few sets of releves, a ballet exercise also known as heel raises, by simply lifting your heels and going onto tip-toe for 10-15 repetitions.

Overhead chest pressIf you’re lucky, you can set aside anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to do some quick exercises. Jeff Rothstein, an exercise physiologist and director of sports enhancement at the PT Center for Sports Medicine, a Physiquality network physical therapy clinic in Akron, Ohio, advises trying to challenge several muscles at once with full-body exercises rather than doing exercises that target one muscle group. Full-body exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups and chin-ups, overhead shoulder presses and planks allow you to increase the caloric expenditure of the exercise while also being more time efficient. He notes that “the beauty of these exercises is that they can all be done from the comfort of your home with minimal equipment.”

Stefania Della Pia, the program director of education and master instructor trainer for STOTT PILATES®, one of Physiquality’s partner programs, reminds readers that Pilates is another way to do full-body exercises. You can always look up some STOTT PILATES sample videos on YouTube, or purchase a full DVD workout like Firm & Fit or a Pilates-infused yoga workout to take with you. Packing workout tools like a mat, a flex-band, a stability ball or a fitness circle will help you intensify your workout and make a quick routine more efficient.

If you have time for a full workout, Jeff suggests doing some circuit training. This is accomplished by performing one set of each exercise with no rest in between exercises and 90 seconds of rest in between circuits, keeping your heart rate up and giving you a great workout quickly. Here’s Jeff’s sample circuit:
Plank pust-up

He recommends repeating this circuit 3-5 times for a quick and effective workout.

All of our contributors recommend staying active wherever you are, and there are plenty of ways to incorporate the rest of the family. Nicole Puzio, a physical therapist at Conshohocken Physical Therapy, a Physiquality network physical therapy clinic in Pennsylvania, recommends planning activities with the whole family: tag football, morning yoga, ice skating, a hike in the woods or a walk with the dog, or, if you’re in the right climate, skiing or snowboarding. You can also look into a Santa Run or Resolution Run to challenge everyone. Jeff also points out that lots of video games from Wii and Xbox Kinect require players to be active and on their feet, while providing fun for the whole family.

If you’re going to be on the road for a while, Nicole reminds drivers and fliers to pack their own snacks, stay hydrated and don’t skip meals; drivers need to get out of the car for occasional breaks to stretch their muscles, and a food break is the perfect time for that. And, wherever you are, get plenty of sleep!

Nicole Puzio, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist at Conshohocken Physical Therapy, a Physiquality network physical therapy clinic, in Pennsylvania.

Jeff Rothstein, EP, MS, CSCS, is an exercise physiologist and the director of sports enhancement at the PT Center for Sports Medicine, a Physiquality network physical therapy clinic, in Akron, Ohio.

Anna Dark is the fitness director of the Take Charge Fitness Program, a wellness facility run by Clinton Physical Therapy Center, a Physiquality network member in Clinton, Tenn. Anna holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and food science from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and is also a certified personal trainer.

Stefania Della Pia is the program director of education, as well as a master instructor trainer, for STOTT PILATES®, one of Physiquality’s partner programs. Stefania is certified as an ACE personal trainer and a Can-Fit Pro personal trainer specialist.



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For further reading:

Absolute PT. Dumbbell overhead press. YouTube.com, November 2, 2011.

Roberts, Kevin. Kevin’s training tips: Shoulder stability. Team PT, September 2011.

STOTT Pilates Channel. YouTube.com.

Atlanta Falcons Physical Therapy Center. Upright rows with Theraband. YouTube.com, February 8, 2010.

Military press variations. Bodybuilding.com, July 7, 2004.



The material and information contained on this Web site is for information only and is not intended to serve as medical advice or consultation.

Consult your personal physician before beginning any exercise program or self-treatment.