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Holidays can seem like the perfect time to socialise, eat and avoid responsibility for a few days. If your calendar is packed with catch-ups, events and parties, the temptation to put exercise off and make it your new year’s resolution instead is always there.

But there is no better time than right now to start exercising and do your heart good. Even a 20-minute walk is better than nothing.

The first step is to look out for potential roadblocks and work out how to navigate them.

  • Keep a set of exercise clothes and shoes in your car or pack them if you’re heading out of town. This will help you head off the “Oh well, I don’t have the right gear with me… guess I can’t train” excuse at the pass.
  • Exercise first thing in the morning before the day gets away from you, even if that means getting up just 20–30 minutes earlier. This is also good incentive to not let the celebrations get out of hand the night before.
  • Rope a friend or family member into your exercise program to hold you accountable.
  • Choose short and sweet programs that give you as much bang for your buck as possible, if you are going to be doing home or gym routines. For example, choose high-intensity interval training (HIIT) class instead of something longer if you need to. In fact, research has shown high-intensity circuit training to be effective in maintaining insulin levels, decreasing body fat and improving muscular fitness.1
  • Get into the mindset in advance that a new year’s resolution to exercise shouldn’t be used to let you off the hook through the holiday season.
  • Plan your exercise options in advance.

Exercise ideas

  • Possibly the biggest trick to use over the holidays, or during any period where you may not have much extra time, is incidental exercise. Organise functions outdoors, like picnics or walks in the park. This is great for catch-ups with other families. Participate in activities with the kids – they’ll be entertained and you’ll get some exercise, so win-win. Throw the ball, play hide and seek, or get into the backyard and play some cricket.
  • Round up everyone and go for a walk after your meal. It’s easy to sit around or watch TV after meals, but getting out into the fresh air and walking off that meal will leave you feeling a lot better. Just remember to apply sunscreen.
  • There are some pre-made exercise routines you can download to use or get apps for. One of the best and shortest for those who are time poor is the 7-minute workout. It uses only body-weight exercises and a few things you can find in the house, and can be done in just 7 minutes in your spare time.
  • Going away on a trip or to visit relatives? Check if your hotel has a gym you can use. Go online and research local walks in the area you’re visiting and its surrounds, and try to get in one or two. This is a wonderful way to both get some exercise and experience part of your destination that you might not have gotten to see.

There are many options for sneaking exercise into the holiday season. It will take some planning beforehand and schedules do change, so don’t be too hard on yourself – remember to stay away from the all or nothing mindset. Every little bit counts.


  1. Klika B, Jordan C (2013) High-Intensity Circuit Training Using Body Weight: Maximum Results With Minimal Investment. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal May/June 2013, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 8-13

About the author

Dr Susan Tyfield

Susan Tyfield is an evidence-based chiropractor who utilises a wide range of treatment techniques and rehabilitation in her sessions. She has been practicing for over 13 years, having achieved board certification both in South Africa, where she had her own private practice, and in Australia, where she has practiced since 2011. She has special interests in sports and performing arts healthcare as well as chronic pain management. She practices out of Waterloo and Darlinghurst, Sydney NSW.

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