In the season of holiday cheer, most of us want to relax, grab a book, and cuddle near the fireplace. This is the perfect occasion to put exercise on the backburner and instead devote our time to cooking or visiting family.

In this kind of environment, it’s easy to go overboard when sweets, alcohol, and gourmet dinners are a regular occurrence. But not all of us want to do the Holidays that way. If you want to limit the extra calories this holiday season, keep these 8 tricks in mind:

Park Further from Your Shopping Destination

Heading to the store to pick out last-minute gifts? Forget circling the parking lot in your car looking for the closest parking spot. Get in the habit of parking further away and get extra calorie-burning steps in without a second thought.

Limit the Mixers

Do you know how much sugar is in your favorite cocktail? If you prefer cocktails with mixers in them, like frozen margaritas, hard eggnog, or Pina coladas, you could be consuming well over one day’s worth of sugar in just one glass.

If you’re watching your waistline and your calorie consumption, opt for a small glass of wine or a light beer at social gatherings.

Get a Workout Buddy

If finding motivation to work out over the holidays is difficult, ask a friend to join forces with you. A workout buddy isn’t just someone to hold you accountable to your fitness goals, they can also provide the emotional support and social companionship that makes staying fit and active fun!

Go ice skating together, hit the hiking trails as a pair, simply head out for a daily walk each day – the ideas are endless.

Replace Animal Products with Plant-Based Proteins

Have you heard? Eating more plant-based proteins can lower your risk of early death. The holidays are filled with lots of decadent meat-centered meals which can leave you with little room left in your tummy for whole plant-based foods.

It’s easy to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, though. Try:

  • Using veggie noodles, like zucchini spirals, instead of white pasta.
  • Replacing white sugar in your holiday cookies with more complex sweeteners like pitted dates, maple syrup, or honey.
  • Skipping the ground beef in your next chili and adding bulk with winter squash, beans, bell peppers, and carrots.
  • Adding pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, chia seeds, or nuts to your morning oatmeal, cereal, or yogurt parfait.

Shorten Your Workouts

Holiday schedules fill up fast with travel, parties, family gatherings, volunteering, you name it! If you rely on lengthy but intermittent workouts to meet your exercise goals, you may want to consider incorporating shorter, but more frequent exercise sessions during the holidays.

A quick half-hour of yoga, two 15-minute walks spread out during the day, 30 minutes of swimming… Finding faster ways to exercise more often will keep you energized and feeling fit throughout the holidays.

Address Pain

For older women with arthritis, back pain, and other musculoskeletal discomforts, exercising during cold weather months can feel almost impossible. Take preventative actions to address pain so it doesn’t keep you from health-benefiting fitness.

These steps may include eating anti-inflammatory foods, using topical creams and salves for relief, applying heat pads to ease the pain, or wearing orthotic aids for extra joint support – like a knee compression sleeve or supportive back brace that helps to both relieve and prevent pain.

Carry a Reusable Water Bottle Everywhere

During the holidays it is easier than you might think to become dehydrated – dry, winter air pulls moisture out of your skin, alcohol and caffeine can act as diuretics, and cooler weather leaves you less parched than during the summer, so you simply don’t feel super thirsty.

Carrying a reusable water bottle with you everywhere will serve as a constant reminder to consume more H2O!

Sleep Well, Sleep Often

Maintaining a good sleep schedule all the time will serve many purposes. Lack of sleep has not only been linked to cognitive decline, but it also can make you groggy and less inspired to keep up with your exercise routine over the holidays.

Sticking with your regular times for going to bed and waking up, even amidst the holiday shenanigans, will have a more positive effect on your health and wellbeing than you know.

What do you do during the holidays to burn off the extra calories? Do you have any additional hints or tricks? Please join the conversation and share them with the community!

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