The end-of-year holiday season can be a difficult time for maintaining exercise habits, says Mike Bento, advanced trainer at The Clubs at Charles River Park. Many people experience an increased level of stress and a lack of time that pushes workouts off the schedule.

“Exercise is a highly effective way to reduce stress and stay in good spirits, so it is particularly important this time of year,” Bento says. “Fitting in shorter exercise sessions and adding movement to your day is a good way to overcome seasonal challenges.”

Here, Bento shares some tips for a healthy holiday season:

Holiday Exercise Strategy

  • Optimally, fitness is enhanced through exercise performed for a specific duration and at moderate-to-vigorous intensity. This usually means working longer and harder than is possible during this busy time of year. Therefore,
    it is helpful to shift expectations about what is optimal.
  • A short exercise session is perfectly OK when time is tight, and certainly much better than skipping it altogether. Rather than forgoing exercise because you do not have 30 minutes for a vigorous workout, settle for a brisk 10-minute walk at different times during the day.
  • A couple of short walks or stair climbs each day can replace longer cardiovascular sessions at the gym until more time is available.
  • A compact strength training session can also replace lengthier workouts in the short term.

    Winter workout: Bento shows how a few quick pushups count toward one’s daily activity total.

    • One good combination of strength and core exercises is the floor plank, chair squats and pushups. Start with the plank. Raise up into a straight line from ears to ankles with midsection firm and hold for three seconds. Lower back to the floor and repeat 6 to 10 times. Follow with a set of 6 to 10 squats followed by 6 to 10 pushups, rest for a minute or two and repeat for a total of three rounds.

Move Throughout the Day

  • Adding in extra movement whenever possible contributes to your daily activity total.
  • Stand up from your chair at regular intervals or use the furthest restroom from your office to get extra steps. Consistent activity and exercise sessions – even brief ones – will get you to the other side of the holidays happier and healthier.