Staying fit this Christmas may be more attainable than you might think. Maximizing time efficiency when it comes to exercising is a good start. It’s been shown that shorter, more frequent workouts provide similar health benefits compared to longer sessions. Physical activity can improve body composition, blood pressure, and inflammation; all of which may to balance holiday indulgences. Quit the guesswork, and discover our 4 most effective exercises to stay fit this Christmas!
Optimizing time efficiency by doing shorter, more frequent exercise sessions may be beneficial during the Christmas period.
Strength training is effective for improving muscle mass, endurance, and metabolism. This can increase resting metabolic rate, meaning your body burns more calories when resting.
HIIT (high-intensity interval training) may improve heart health and burn fat whilst being time efficient.
Stretching can alleviate aches and pains, beneficial for periods lacking physical activity.
Taking into account exercise, diet, activity levels, sleep, and stress levels provides a well-rounded, holistic approach to fitness.
As Christmas approaches, it signifies the end of the year and the start of new beginnings. It’s common for diet and exercise to go out the window, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Consider committing to shorter, effective workouts to keep you fit and consistent whilst honoring downtime.
Incorporating resistance training, HIIT, and stretching into your routine may improve muscle mass, metabolism, and blood pressure whilst reducing tightness.
Resistance training, cardio, HIIT, stretching: which is better?
Resistance training is low-impact, making it a great option for those with joint issues. It may also improve strength, bone density, and metabolism. Cardio is great for improving heart health, blood pressure, and endurance. However, excessive cardio may hinder muscle development due to the body breaking down muscle tissue for energy. HIIT (high-intensity interval training), on the other hand, offers similar benefits to cardio without compromising muscle mass due to shorter bursts of intense exercise, with intentional sets of rest vs. activity.
Particularly, one study shows that a combination of both aerobic and resistance training has positive effects on lean body mass, strength, and blood pressure. Diversifying training ensures optimal overall fitness. Stretching can reduce muscle tightness whilst easing aches and pains. Another study found that participants with chronic musculoskeletal pain reported a 94% decrease in pain after three weeks of stretching.
Top 4 exercises to stay fit this Christmas
These four exercises incorporate the three aspects we have covered above: resistance training, HIIT, and stretching making them a great way to increase muscle mass, boost metabolism and release tightness.
- Stand with feet hip width apart, neutral spine, and arms by your sides.
- Inhale. Push your hips back, as if sitting on a chair, hinging forward at the hips, simultaneously reaching your arms out in line with shoulders. Pause at the bottom.
- Exhale. Engage abdominals, ziping up through your lower belly to come up to stand. Bring arms back down by your sides.
- Keep your ankles, knees, and hips tracking in line with each other throughout.
- For extra balance, rise to the balls of the feet, floating the heels off the ground each time you stand. Then, gently lower your heels down.
Repeat 10 repetitions.
- Squats are a full body exercise, engaging every major muscle group.
- They can improve joint mobility and lower body strength.
- They are functional and essential to everyday life. Squats mimic sitting to standing.
Plank jack combo
- Start on all fours: hands under shoulders, knees under hips.
- Find your plank position. Tuck your toes, extend your right leg behind you in line with your hip followed by your left.
- Hold the plank for 10 seconds. Keep breathing and drawing up through your lower belly whilst keeping your spine straight.
- Add in plank jacks. Jump the feet in toward each other, then jump back out to the sides (roughly hip width). Keep your hips level and abdominals strong as you jump in and out. Continue for twenty seconds.
Repeat 3 sets.
- Plank jacks are a full body HIIT exercise, helping to activate all major muscles.
- They may improve cardiovascular endurance and burn fat and are very time efficient.
Abdominal curl up
- Lie on your back, legs bent, feet roughly under your knees.
- Place hands behind your head for support, elbows in peripheral vision. Inhale, prepare.
- Exhale, zip in and up through the lower abdominals, lifting the head, neck, and shoulders off the mat, bringing your gaze toward the tops of the knees. Pause for a moment.
- Inhale. Release back down.
Repeat 10 repetitions.
- With the correct breathing, abdominal curls can strengthen the deep stabilizing muscles in our abdominals.
- These deep muscles help to keep the pelvis and lower spine stable and support your posture.
- A weak core can cause lower back pain.
- Start on all fours, hands under shoulders and knees under hips.
- Step your right foot toward your right hand whilst sliding your left leg back, finding a lunge position with an open chest.
- Heel toe your right foot toward your left hand and allow your right knee to open to the side. Open the hip as much as feels comfortable, aiming for the floor.
- Straighten out your leg and keep your hips squared off to the mat.
- Fold forward if comfortable, extending your arms out in front of you, softening your chest toward the floor.
Hold for 30 seconds. Then, repeat on your second side.
- Reduces aches and pains. Tight hips may trigger lower back pain due to connections of the muscles in the lower body.
- The pigeon stretch releases the psoas muscle, which contributes to posture and spinal stability.
It’s important to treat yourself and indulge on Christmas without restrictions. The same goes for your exercise routine — it is fine to slow things down. We all need rest to reflect and recharge our energy levels for a fresh new year. Committing to shorter, effective, more frequent workouts can provide similar results to longer sessions. Combining resistance training, HIIT, and stretching may be effective for building muscle, burning fat, and reducing aches and pains.
Consider working out from home during this period. It doesn’t require any travel time, making it easier to fit in around a busy schedule. Our 4 exercises will help you keep fit this Christmas without having to over-commit. Do them as often as you like to feel good and keep your physical health in check.
- Einstein (Sao Paulo). Split or full-body workout routine: which is best to increase muscle strength and hypertrophy?
- Int J Sports Phys Ther. CURRENT CONCEPTS IN MUSCLE STRETCHING FOR EXERCISE AND REHABILITATION.
- PLoS One. Comparative effectiveness of aerobic, resistance, and combined training on cardiovascular disease risk factors: A randomized controlled trial.