8 Ways to Squeeze in Exercise During the Holiday Season

As soon as November hits, our already hectic schedules get even busier. And there are only so many hours in a day. Something has to go. Unfortunately, the first thing to take a hit—even when we need it the most—is typically our workout routine. 

The average American gains as much as 5 pounds during the holiday season. Additional get-togethers with family and friends come with comfort foods and sweet treats. While that is expected and normalized, it's still important to keep your body moving during these busy times.

Squeezing in movement—even on the busiest of days—can help eliminate tension and anxiety, boost your mental health, and encourage healthier holiday habits. The best way to stay active during the holiday season is by creating routines that work for you and your schedule. 

We've put together a list of 8 quick ways to get some movement in, so you can stay healthy and even boost your holiday spirit.

Use commercial breaks as a way to exercise

There's nothing wrong with binging your favorite TV show, but why not use those commercial breaks for a few quick exercises? It can be something as simple as doing 10 jumping jacks or pushups during every commercial break.

If you're watching Netflix with no commercial breaks, you could set a goal to do 30 jumping jacks and 30 pushups between each episode. You can adjust these goals to meet your needs, but even just getting up to get your blood flowing is more physical activity than sitting on the couch.

Play with the kids

During the holidays, you'll most likely to be around more children than usual. Take advantage of having the little ones around, and try to feed off of their holiday excitement. Instead of being burdened by the extra responsibilities of having tiny tots around, play with them. There are countless games that will get you moving, like tag, hopscotch, or four-square.

If you've got any sports equipment, grab a soccer ball, basketball, or football and just pass it back and forth. If it's too cold or the weather doesn't permit, try Twister or musical chairs. 

Or, take the older kids on a stroll around the neighborhood and check out holiday decorations. Whatever you choose, you'll be getting a workout in, and it's likely that the kids will put you in the holiday spirit.

Speed clean the house

You probably already need to clean your house for hosting guests. Why not make it fun? This idea is a win-win, you get your body moving and a clean home. You can do this alone or delegate tasks to other family members.

If you're sharing the workload, turn it into a competition. Set a time goal for everyone's tasks at the beginning and see who can clean the fastest. No cheating, though—a half-cleaned room doesn't count. Cleaning is often quite laborious, and you'll be surprised at how much your heart rate increases.

Play with your pets

If you have any pets, take them on a daily walk or play a few rounds of fetch with them each afternoon. Both the pet and you can benefit from the exercise and stimulation.

In addition to reducing stress, boosting endurance, and benefiting cardiovascular health, simply going for a walk can reduce the risk for serious illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Plus, it’s free, can benefit all body types and fitness levels, and can be squeezed in anytime, anywhere.  

Stay active while traveling

If you're traveling out of town to visit friends and family, it can be tough to maintain your regular workout schedule. But it's not impossible.

In the airport, walk around and explore the terminals between your flights. If you're staying at a hotel, check out the pool and fitness center, or use in-room exercise equipment if available. You can also see if your gym membership extends to other locations. 

Do some yard work

If you've ever mowed the lawn, raked leaves, or shoveled snow, you know how much of a workout these specific tasks are. Most people love to put them off, but they're a great way to get your heart rate up and to get some steps in. Plus, you'll feel incredibly satisfied when you're finished.

Wind down the day with some yoga

It can be tempting to unwind with a glass of wine after a long day of work and holiday gatherings. But there are so many mind-body benefits of a good yoga flow. Yoga promotes relaxation through deep breathing techniques, releases tension in the body, helps clear the mind of distractions, and builds muscle strength.

If you’re feeling especially stressed, anxious, irritable, or struggling to sleep due to racing thoughts, roll out your mat for a quick yoga flow or stretch. 

Exercise indoors

Working out can be difficult during the holidays for people who like to exercise outdoors—it's usually cold, wet, snowy, or dark. And it's especially tough for those looking to burn a lot of calories by going for a run or a bike ride.

For these fitness gurus, we've put together some quick, high-intensity workouts you can try at home or at the gym. These two options feature a high-calorie demand (challenging all major muscle groups) and are easily adjustable to your ability.


—½ mile run/power walk

—100 air squats

—100 pushups

—100 situps

—½ mile run/power walk

Complete from start to finish as fast as you can, but take as many breaks as needed and make sure you keep it manageable. Time yourself. Everyone can scale this workout to a version that is accessible by modifying the exercises and the rep counts. For example, you can break up into 10 rounds of 10 reps each, 4 rounds of 25, 2 rounds of 50, etc.

The first time will be tough, but try it again at least 2 or 3 times to see if you can beat your time. You will notice it becomes more manageable each time you do it. 

100 burpees for time

Burpees are a tremendously effective way to burn calories. Done properly, they target the whole body—chest, back, core, hips, and legs. No muscle group big or small can hide from a proper burpee.

This workout is beautifully simple (no programming or equipment required)—but the trade-off is a lot of hard work. The workout is simple—just repeat 100 times. Easy, right? Luckily, you can modify the amount of reps and rounds so you can get an effective workout that works best for your body.

Modify any segment of the burpee to make the movement more accessible for you. Shorten the movements, remove the pushup, or stagger your feet instead of jumping both of them at the same time. Explore what works best for you, but still challenge yourself.

Rest as needed in order to do proper reps—break it up into 5 or 10 at a time. Repeat the workout on non-consecutive days in order to give your body recovery time. And make sure you find the right surface—a carpeted floor is great for burpees. If you don't have a carpeted area, try a yoga mat. It helps release some of the pressure on your wrists.

With these simple activities and high-intensity workouts, keeping a consistent fitness routine during the busy holiday season is easier than you think. 

At OnSite Wellness, health and wellness is our specialty. Incorporating a wellness program at your workplace can have massive benefits for your employees in managing their health. Contact us to learn more!