By Stephanie Mansour, CNN
Whether it be from the pressure of social demands or more physical causes like lack of sleep, it’s normal to feel stress and become overwhelmed with added chores during this holiday season. However, there are ways to integrate exercise into our everyday lives without adding stress or anxiety.
If you tend to skip workouts over the holidays, you’ve got company. Research suggests that Americans tend to turn to eating and drinking during the holidays. A CNN poll in December 2014 found that 62% say they “indulge and eat what they want” during the holiday season, and a CBS News poll in December 2017 found that 20% of adults say they drink more alcoholic beverages during the holiday season. Even thinking about working out may seem stressful during a time when we’re so busy.
Instead of stressing about squeezing in a workout, try these moves while doing your holiday activities. This way, when you’re done with whatever it is you’re doing — shopping, meeting up with friends, doing laundry — you can sit down, relax and feel a sense of accomplishment.
Each move can be performed at home, and some can even be performed in public without anyone noticing. Try one or all of these five ways to turn your chore into a quick yet efficient workout.
1. Calf raises in the kitchen
Calf raises are super simple, which is what makes them the perfect move to practice in the kitchen when you’re not able to focus on working out. All you have to do is stand with your feet hip-width apart, and lift your heels off the ground by pressing down into your toes.
Shift your weight up and down, squeezing your calves as you go. Repeat 10 times.
This move can be performed in between any kitchen task, so try squeezing in a couple of sets. Did you just put something in the microwave and need to wait for it to be ready? Squeeze in 10 calf raises!
2. Counter push-ups while baking cookies
Counter push-ups are a great way to incorporate an upper-body workout into your holiday baking. Place your hands on the edge of the counter and lean so that your feet are planted behind you.
Bend your elbows, bringing your upper body closer to the counter before pressing into the counter and straightening your arms. Repeat 10 times.
When you have a couple minutes of downtime in the kitchen, use that time to your advantage. Place the cookie sheet in the oven, lean on the counter and get moving before the oven beeps.
3. Squats while doing laundry
Laundry can become a mundane part of everyday life. However, you can spice up this household chore by squeezing in a workout at the same time. Whether you’re loading up the washer, folding clothes or carrying the laundry basket up the stairs, take a moment to perform some squats.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and extend your arms straight out in front of you.
Bend at the hips and knees and make sure to keep your feet planted.
Try bringing your thighs parallel to the ground and reaching your glutes back. Press down through your heels to straighten your legs and return to starting position. Repeat 10 times.
4. Standing ab pulses
Standing ab pulses are easy and go unnoticed by the people around you. Being in public doesn’t have to stop you from squeezing in a workout. Whether you’re at a party with friends, shopping or running errands, pause for a minute and perform 10 standing ab pulses. If you do this a couple of times a day, you’ll be fitting in a workout without putting aside any extra time.
Simply squeeze your abs in a pulsing type of motion, really making sure to engage your core with each movement.
Pretend like someone is punching you in the stomach, and you’re pulling away from the punch. Repeat 10 times.
5. Glute stretch while sitting at a table
Next time you’re sitting at the table for a holiday meal or eating dinner, you can stretch your glutes underneath the table without anyone noticing.
Sit up in a chair with your feet on the ground. Cross your right ankle over your left thigh, bending at the knee so that your right ankle rests on your left thigh.
Gently lean forward, and hold for 30 seconds before repeating with the other leg.
Mindfulness and awareness of your body increases the more you sneak in stretches and exercises into your everyday life. Enjoy the holidays while helping your body feel good.
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Stephanie Mansour, host of “Step It Up With Steph” on PBS, is a health and wellness journalist and a consultant and weight loss coach for women.