It’s always hard to stay in shape this time of year, what with shopping, work parties, drinks with friends, and family events all get in the way of the usual gym visits and healthy eating. Plus work often becomes more stressful as everything needs to be done in three weeks instead of four, which just makes us want to grab a feel-good snack when we get home instead of doing our usual workouts. And of course, many sports clubs and fitness classes shut over the Christmas period, which just make the time even less healthy for us all! So let’s look at the main problems and talk about a simple solution.
Yes, we all eat too much at Christmas. It’s not just the huge meal we eat on Christmas day, but in the run up to Christmas workplaces are usually full of festive cookies, chocolates and other snacks, friends invite you round for parties, and then there all the leftover foods that you munch through between Christmas and New Year when you are at home all day.
After work drinks and parties all mean we often drink more too, and alcohol is packed with calories that cause weight gain. Drinking less alcohol is one of our weight loss rules.
While Christmas is supposed to be a magical time of celebration, it is often also very stressful. The pressure of work is a big problem, especially when your company closes down over the Christmas period but your boss expects you to do still do four weeks of work. There is also the stress of planning parties, doing the shopping and spending time with family members that you have not seen for a year. Many people associate Christmas with arguing and family feuds with good reason.
No Time For Exercise
As if stress, food and booze was not bad enough, on top of all this there is little time to go to the gym or do your usual workouts. All those calories and stress combine with less activity means only one thing – fat growth!
So, how can we combat all these problems without massively ruining our Christmas spirit? What we need is some fast and furious workouts that can be done anywhere. We always take some inspiration from around the web, and while enjoying some downtime last week we came across these “mini health boosters”, which provide a series of very familiar exercises that when combined create a simple yet effective little routine that you can do anywhere. They are:
- Sun Salutations
- Stair Climbing
- The Plank
- Mountain Climbers
You probably won’t want to do these all at the same time, but each is perfect in that you can do it anytime, anywhere. So let’s look at these 5 exercises in a little more detail:
Our resident yoga expert has shared a video with instructions on performing the sun salutation. The Sun salutation is a series of yoga poses that are combined to provide a complete routine that works the whole body. It is great in that it is easy to learn, only needs the space of an exercise mat to perform, and can be repeated over and over as many times as you wish.
Basically, it involves a back stretch, forward bend, a plank. upward facing down, downward facing dog, then return to the forward bend and final stretch. While it does not sound demanding in writing, once you have performed 10, 20 or 30, you will soon be sweating. Ashtanga Yoga makes good use of the Sun Salutation to turn a yoga routine into a very effective fitness session. And as you can see from the video, you don’t need to be a yoga expert to do them.
Taking the stairs instead of an elevator is a simple way to get more active. Where you are at work, out shopping or travelling on the underground, take the stairs for a quick workout. If you want to take this one step further, do some stair workouts at home. Why go to a gym when you can just walk up and down your own stairs? Trust us, within 10 minutes of walking up and down your stairs at home you will be wondering, between gasps of breath, why you pay for gym membership!
We’ve talked about squats a lot on MotleyHealth, and with good reason – they are one of the best exercises for increasing your work rate and building more muscle. Squats work the glutes, which are the biggest muscles in the body, as well as leg muscles. Air squats (also called bodyweight squats) can be done literally anywhere, anytime. Just stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart, and bend your legs and lower your butt to the ground. Keep your torso upright – look forward, not down. You can go slow or fast depending on fitness. Start slow on a cold day though, as it’s easy to pull a muscle even with bodyweight squats if your muscles are cold.
While the plank is a great core strengthening exercise, as it is use in the Sun Salutation we prefer to instead just do push ups. Push ups are one of the best bodyweight exercises as it works your major back, shoulder and arm muscles, as well as the core. A simple exercises that is often underrated and underused! Drop and give me 20!
Mountain Climbers are another classic circuit training exercise that provides both core strengthen and cardio benefits. In a plank or push up position, you lift your knees up to your chest one at a time, alternating your legs. Go as fast as you can for one minute and rest 30 seconds, then repeat.
So there you go, 5 simple exercises that can be done anywhere, anytime. You have no excuses for not staying active over the busy Christmas period, so no more saying “I don’t have time for exercise!”. Make time. Wake up 5 minutes earlier, or go to bed 5 minutes later. Just a little every day will make a huge difference and help stop those pesky fat cells growing.