Health

12 Days of Christmas Workouts

Bring along some music, a friend or a spouse — just get out the door

The holidays are one of the toughest times of the year to stay on a healthy workout schedule.

Everyone is busy, so we understand why you’re skipping the gym, taking a day away from laps at the pool, or missing your daily walk through the neighborhood.

But if you’re among those already convincing yourself that you can’t possibly fit anything else into your day between now and Christmas, we have a plan for you.

Study after study shows that some exercise, even 10 minutes a day, is better than no exercise at all.

Taking Inventory
With the holiday season drawing near, it is time to reflect on 2015 and set goals for 2016. How is your physical health? Your mental health?

Consider looking at your body for clues. Your body may be sending you messages in the forms of aches, pains, knots, kinks, or general discomfort. You may feel stressed out, tired and strung out from a busy year of screen time and not enough physical or mindful activity.

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Consider what you would like to see in 2016. Think about what you are willing to do to feel stronger mentally and physically at this time next year. Reflect on how you feed your mind, body and spirit. Are you spending free time engaged with a positive community or reading meaningful literature?

Or do you crash on the couch to take in hours of reality television?

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If you are ready for change, join us as we spend a little time each day nourishing our minds and bodies during the 12 days of Christmas. We will begin with walking, resistance training and loving-kindness meditation.

Think of it as a way to get a head start on a robust and vital 2016.

Walk It Off
Walking is a wonderful and convenient exercise solution for those who believe they have no time to exercise during the holidays. If you are pressed for time, yet seeking a form of exercise with astounding health benefits, walking is the answer.

Related: Getting Fit Step by Step

A 2015 article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported the results of a comprehensive European study on the benefits of exercise. The authors “projected that just adding a brisk 20-minute walk to one’s daily routine would relocate that individual from the ‘completely inactive’ group at high risk of death to the ‘moderately inactive group,’ thereby cutting their risk of premature death.”

So, if you are short on time, take your dog or borrow a neighbor’s dog, and head out for a walk.

Stronger Every Day
Incorporating some type of resistance training to your weekly routine will also be beneficial. If you do not have a gym membership, you can still perform fun and challenging body-weight workouts.

As a Health magazine article reported, “Recent research finds that doing resistance training — using weights or just your own body weight — a few times per week can increase the number of calories you burn even at rest by 100 a day or more.” The piece also discussed a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in which “twice as many people who did regular strength training lost weight and kept it off compared with those who didn’t.”

A Mindful Holiday
The holidays can be a time of frustration for many. Crowded airports, irritating in-laws, or massive preparations can overwhelm or extinguish the holiday spirit. Such frustrations can pale in comparison to the grief experienced by those who lost loved ones to recent tragedies. What can we do?

Related: The Truth About Exercise

Emma Seppälä is a research scientist at Stanford University and the author of “The Happiness Track.” She outlined 18 scientifically backed reasons for trying loving-kindness meditation, including increasing positive attitudes, decreasing chronic pain, reducing bias toward others, and improving social connections. That might come in handy this holiday season.

In a study featured in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 2014, kindness-based meditation showed “evidence of benefits for the health of individuals and communities through its effects on well-being and social interaction.” In light of recent tragedies around the world, it would be worthwhile to learn more about loving-kindness meditation in an attempt to heal ourselves and our communities.

Mind and Body Work Suggestions for the Days Ahead

Dec. 14:  2-mile walk, and 20-15-10s (20 push-ups, 20 sit ups, 15 push-ups, 15 sit ups, 10 push-ups, 10 sit ups)

Dec. 15:  15-30 minutes of yoga, tai chi, or qi gong. (If you do not have a gym membership, YouTube videos are always available.)

Dec. 16:  10-20 minutes of meditation. (Find a guided meditation on something meaningful to you, i.e., releasing anger, or experiencing radiant health.)

Dec. 17:  Circuit: Squats, body weight planks, upright row, plus overhead press, step ups, bicep curls, lunges, bicycle twists: two times for 20 seconds each, 20 seconds rest between sets. Repeat for two to four circuits.

Dec. 18:  15-30 minutes of yoga, tai chi, or qi gong. Be conscious today of the way you fuel your body. Notice how food affects you physically and emotionally.

Dec. 19:  2- or 3-mile walk, and wall sits for three times 20 seconds on, 40 seconds off.

Dec. 20:  10-20 minutes of meditation. (Select a guided meditation on gratitude, compassion, or loving-kindness.)

Dec. 21:  Shortest day of the year. Easy day to go without sugar. See how you feel mentally and physically without it.

Dec. 22:  20-30 minutes of yoga, tai chi, or qi gong.

Dec. 23:  Circuit: Squats, body weight planks, upright row, plus overhead press, step ups, bicep curls, lunges, bicycle twists: Two times 20 seconds each, 20 seconds rest between sets. Repeat for two to four circuits.

Dec. 24:  10-25 minutes of meditation on a topic of your choice.

Dec. 25:  3-5 mile walk after your holiday meal!

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