Written by Jack Boardman
Finding Ways to Exercise This Christmas Outside The Gym
The Christmas holidays are a time of year for loving and caring, for making merry and spending time with friends and family, putting your feet up to watch Christmas TV and eating copious amounts of seasonal food. The trouble is, none of that will do an awful lot of good to keep you in good shape.
In many households, heading off to the gym to get in a workout is a major faux pas. After all, it’s Christmas and if you’re not meant to be having fun or spending time with people, then there’s certainly always plenty to be done around the house and in preparation for dinners and parties.
Whereas chores are the last thing on anyone’s mind building up to the festive season, and with so much to do already, this may be your window of opportunity to get in some light exercise.
Before we begin, here’s a little incentive: according to FEMAIL, the average Christmas dinner consists of around 7,000 calories! Good news if you’re a hard gainer, but bad news if you can’t get any exercise in to put all that energy consumption to use and burn off those calories. Christmas calories, after all, are the best. From mince pies to turkey, sausages wrapped in bacon to Christmas pudding, there’s not one bit of it that you’ll want to pass up. It comes but once a year, so before you start tormenting yourself with ideas of missing out on all that food for the sake of a few pounds, think instead how you could sneak in a bit of light exercise without taking time out to get to the gym.
Where to Start
If you think the only way to exercise involves being in a gym, a bench and barbells, treadmills and all the other equipment you might use, you’re wrong. Gym equipment is merely designed to help. It is the lifting itself, the increased heart rate, the stretching and working muscles that gets you in shape and keeps you fit and healthy. So to start, look around at what’s under your nose this Christmas and see how it might help to burn a few calories, work a muscle, or limber up a bit after all that sitting.
To help you on your way, we’ve outlined a few festive chores that you might utilise to get in a quick burst of exercise this Christmas.
Last Minute Christmas Shopping
A last minute dash to get in your Christmas shopping is widely known as physically and mentally taxing. If you’re too late getting this year’s gifts online and have no choice but to brave the shops, do so with cardio training in mind. If the shops are far but close enough for a decent run, get on your sweats and trainers and jog there. Even people in their finest garb are sweating in the busier shops. Just remember to hydrate or you might find yourself making bad decision on which stocking fillers to buy when you get there.
Deadlifting The Christmas Tree
There are times when, as a weightlifter, your technique is called upon outside of the gym. One such time is the Christmas season when you need to get the family tree from the ground to your car, or lifting those boxes of decorations in the attic. For more information on this, read: How To Deadlift a Christmas Tree.
Decorating The Tree
In need of a quick yoga or pilates fix, or a stretch to sort out your back and hamstrings? The rule is that you’re not to inflict your exercise upon others while they’re wanting to sit and watch the Snowman, so short of having everyone watch you stretch in the living room, you might find other opportunities when asked to hang Christmas decorations and decorate the tree.
With a little imagination, you could well turn reaching to hang icicle lights into a stretch. Got a nativity scene to set up? Squat down and hold that pose. Got some baubles to hang on the lower branches of the tree? Down-wind dog. And when it comes to putting the fairy or star on the top of the tree, hold that stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds, this will build suspense for everyone waiting for the big lights swtich-on, and will also ensure you are holding the stretch for long enough – no pulled muscles for Christmas.
Circuits are a sure way to both burn calories and work on your strength. It’s already been established how much food is involved at Christmas, but someone has to run the errands to collect it. Our advice is to pick a moderately close supermarket. Jog there to get in a bit of cardio and then opt for two baskets instead of a trolley.
By filling each basket equally you will be evenly working both arms and your abs. Muscle balance is a vital component in preventing injury. By holding your arms straight and raising them from your sides to lift the basket, you are essentially performing a lateral raise, which works the anterior deltoid, the supraspinatus and the trapezius muscles. Because you are working on balance with the two baskets, you will also be working your core and obliques, not to mention your legs while you balance yourself.
Each time you lift the basket by performing a curl, you’re working your arms – your biceps in particular. And because of the awkward angles of the baskets you’ll be getting a quality overall arm workout that, at times, will isolate muscles like the bicep, potentially working it harder that you might by simply doing a few sets at the gym.
Carrying the bags home will be a high intensity workout on the traps and delts, not to mention the cardio of the walk home.
When you get back and your workout is complete, remember to get your nutrition in to help recovery and muscle growth – good job you went for all the food.