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Consistency is king: maintaining your exercise routine during the busy holiday season

Scott Brunning

Lead Exercise Physiologist

Sticking to a structured routine can be a huge help to many people trying to practice a healthier lifestyle. You know what healthy foods and snacks to prepare, you’ve found an activity that works for you and you’re in a positive mindset to make real changes for your health. But, as we all know, sometimes life throws you a curveball, and routines get messed up.

The holiday season can be particularly challenging. You may find yourself more prone to injury, or simply feeling that you don’t have enough time to stick to your current fitness schedule, with all of the holiday commitments that come along this time of year. One thing you can do during times like these is to focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do.

What can you do?

As we all know, exercise and activity play a huge role in weight loss, not only because they burn calories, but because they keep your metabolism revved-up as well. Maintaining some level of consistent activity, even if it’s not as intense or as long as your usual scheduled workout, will bring significant benefits in the long run. Healthy habits are what result in real behaviour change. You want to keep the habit of setting aside time for exercise, not fall out of it just because you can’t do what you’ve always done. Without this consistent effort, it can become difficult to get back into your healthy routine when the holiday season is over.

First, lets look at injuries. You may have a bad knee or back problems, and when it flares up, you can’t do the exercises you enjoy. But what can you do? Talk to your doctor and explore other activity options. Low-impact exercises like swimming could be a pain-free way for you to fit in some movement while your injury is bothering you. Who knows, you may even like it and decide to make it a regular activity in your fitness schedule!

Similarly, if you find yourself low on time during this festive period, don’t cut out exercise altogether. Aim for shorter workouts that are easy for you to complete. If you usually jog or walk for 40 minutes, try 10 minutes instead. Ten minutes, 4 days a week for one month is 240 minutes of exercise. Don’t discount shorter bursts of exercise. If you usually workout outside, but there is heavy snowfall or icy conditions, try an indoor body-weight workout instead. There is always a way for you to keep moving.

Plan A, Plan B, Plan C

Now, this may seem like a simple task, but often when suffering from injury, fatigue or the hectic pace of the holiday season, your motivation levels are low. It can be more difficult to try and work around obstacles, and the easier option seems to be skipping activity altogether. That’s why it’s important to be proactive and make an activity plan for a variety of different scenarios. Decide what you will do when you are pain free and your activity levels are high, have a backup plan for when your injuries flares up, and a third option for when you’re low on motivation or time. Healthy habits lead to long-term behavior change. Commit to keeping them up as best you can, no matter what life throws your way, and continue to live your happy and healthy life during every season.

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