Published on 09 Feb 2023

How to Stay Active During the Holidays

The holiday season can be so hectic. This can make keeping up with your weight loss plan challenging. All the tempting food and drinks can detour your healthy eating plan. On top of that, you may also struggle to find time to get in the recommended 30 minutes of calorie-burning activity each day.

Looking for ideas and inspiration for staying active during the holidays? You can find opportunities this season to get moving for a half-hour and maybe have fun while you’re at it. Check out these nine simple ways to stay on track with your holiday fitness routine:

1. Stroll After Eating

couple walking

You might be tempted to find a couch to sprawl on after a big holiday meal. However, walking helps you digest the food and gets your metabolism working. Round up a few partners and go for a brisk walk before settling in for post-meal relaxation.

A 30 -minute walk burns about 135 calories (for a 155-pound person). What’s more, walking right after a meal rather than an hour later keeps you from storing extra pounds and may speed up your weight loss after you’re done, according to a study published in the International Journal of General Medicine.

2. Chop and Split

Fireplace and wood

A crackling fire is a holiday tradition in many households, and it offers you a chance to get in some exercise. According to an old saying, splitting a pile of firewood warms you twice: when you’re chopping the wood and again when you’re sitting by the fire. Chopping and splitting firewood burns up about 215 calories in 30 minutes.

3. Shoveling Session

snow shovel

If you live where snow falls during the holiday season, you can tone your muscles and strengthen your heart and lungs by shoveling it. That will burn up about 215 calories in a half-hour. Be sure to work at a moderate, steady pace to avoid injury. And remember, you’ll reduce the strain if you lift the shovel with your whole body and not just your lower back muscles.

4. Cool Fun

ice skating

There are lots of fun ways to be active outdoors in winter. Skating on a frozen pond outside or on an indoor ice rink will burn about 250 calories in 30 minutes. Find a gentle slope and go sledding or tobogganing (around 245 calories) with the kids. Visit a local park with trails through fields or forests to go cross-country skiing, which burns about 245 calories.

Where snow is heavy, you can dial it up another notch with snowshoeing (290 calories). It requires no skills other than walking through the snow. Many local outfitters will rent you the gear you need to try these winter activities.

5. Hydration Hint

Hydration after running

We usually think about staying hydrated when we’re sweating in warm weather. Cold, dry air and winds can dehydrate us, too, so it’s just as important to get in plenty of fluids during the winter season. Drinking plenty of water also activates your metabolism, so you’re burning calories even after you stop exercising.

6. Get Dancing

couple dancing

Whether you’re at a party or just home with your family, dancing is a fun way to be active, get your heart pumping, and tone your body. The waltz or other slow dances burn about 110 calories in a half-hour, while faster disco-style or square-dancing torches about 200 calories.

Whichever style you prefer, dancing releases endorphins in your body. They’re the “feel good” hormones that naturally relieve pain and reduce stress. Endorphins can also help to regulate your appetite, which is important for weight loss.

7. Play Time

Family making snowman in winter

Keeping kids active helps them expend the excited energy that builds up during the holiday break. Join them and you can get in a little activity for yourself.

Outdoors, take the kids to the playground. While they play and explore, you can do planks, jumping jacks and other simple calisthenics. If the weather outside is frightful, simple games such as musical chairs, duck-duck-goos, and the limbo get them moving, while you burn about 140 calories. You could even build a snowman together for some family bonding!

8. Party Prep

cleaning for Christmas party

House cleaning before or after a party is no fun, but it does stoke your metabolism. All the scrubbing, bending, pushing and straining works off about 160 calories in a half hour. But you should still ask others to help, so the burden isn’t all on you.

9. Drop While You Shop

holiday shopping

Walking around the mall, in and out of stores, can add up to a lot of steps that help you get to 30 minutes a day of activity. While you’re standing in line, remember that you’re still burning about 35 calories. That’s a little gift to yourself during the holiday season.

* Calorie estimates are for a 155-pound person. Based on information from Harvard Health Publishing.

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