With the bustle of the holiday season, one of the first things to go may be your workout. Some days the conference call runs late or your boss may ask you to stay longer at work than you’d planned — and then you miss your lunchtime workout class or after-work run.
And then there are the days that we just don't have the energy, motivation, or time to shower afterwards before hitting that holiday happy hour, and we use these as excuses to remove exercise from our calendar. I hate to break it to you: None of these predicaments are an excuse.
For those days when you don't have the time this month, I've put together a simple routine you can perform absolutely anywhere (from your living room to your office) that will work every body part without leaving you a sweaty mess. Keep it in your back pocket for the next time you need to squeeze some quick toning into your hectic schedule.
Your workouts will be broken down into two routines: a no-sweat workout and cardio days, although the cardio isn't as much a routine as it is a reminder to get up a few times each day and get moving. If you can carve out 30 minutes in your schedule for a run or a cardio-based exercise class with friends, great! But the point of this month's workout is that it can be done in a pinch if you want to squeeze in some exercise (but can’t shower) and need to look presentable after. So it's all about finding ways to sneak in some extra movement and calorie burn throughout the day to hit that 30 minutes.
Cardiovascular exercise is great not only for weight loss and overall fitness, but for mood and stress reduction — which is something we all could use over the holidays. Even more reason to find ways to get your heart rate up over the holiday season. Plus, being active with short bursts throughout the day keeps your health on the forefront of your mind, which may help you make other healthy choices, like skipping the cookie tray in the office kitchen.
When it comes to moving, the sky is the limit, but one of the easiest ways is to go on a walk. Walking at a moderate pace for 30 minutes burns about 100 calories and helps improve circulation and mobility in your body. Or, you could walk at a brisk pace (faster) for three different spurts of 10 minutes throughout the day. Walking quicker for a total of 30 minutes will burn close to 200 calories. Don't even have ten minutes to take a break? Set the alarm on your phone every hour on the hour. At this time, walk around the office (with your phone in hand to check emails or talk) for five minutes. Doing this six times throughout the day adds up to 30 minutes of cardio.
Some other ideas: Cooking a holiday recipe or cookies in the kitchen? While stirring, pouring, measuring and reading recipes, march in place. If you’re in the kitchen for 30 minutes, that’ll be 30 minutes of moving. Have stairs in the house? Every time you go up or down the stairs, add in five more repetitions (up and down). Doing laundry before guests come over? Do butt kicks or march in place while folding — and then of course, you will have to make a few trips to the bedroom to put clothes away. All of these count towards your daily cardio count.
Stand up with your feet slightly wider than your hips and toes turned out. Bring the arms up over your head. Then bend your knees bend so that your thighs are parallel to the ground, and your bend your arms into a goal post position. To really work the core and upper back, pull the naval in towards your spine and squeeze your shoulder blades together. This pose not only works the legs, glutes and inner thighs, but also works the upper back, core and arms. Stand back up, and repeat this slowly 10 times.
Seated on the ground or on a mat, bend your knees. (For a more advanced exercise, straighten your legs.) Then, reach your arms out in front of you with the shoulders relaxed. Pull the naval in towards the spine and slowly roll down onto your lower back. Hold here, or reach the arms up overhead for more of a workout, and then bring the arms back to center and slowly roll back up to the starting position. Repeat this ab exercise 10 times.
From the seated position, roll back into the Pilates half roll down above. This is your starting position. Touch the hands together at your chest, and then twist to the right without moving your knees or legs, come back to center and then twist to the left. Repeat this 10 times to each side.
Lying on your stomach, place your forehead on top of your hands. Pull your naval in towards your spine, and then bend your knees. Press your heels together, and then try to lift the upper thighs off the ground by squeezing your glutes. Pulse this up 20 times while pulling your belly button away from the floor.
Lying on your stomach, place your hands flat on the ground along your chest. Pull the shoulder blades away from your ears and engage the abs. Slowly press the nose forward and up as if you’re pushing a marble forward with your nose, and then press up into a mini cobra pose. Lift the hands one inch off the ground and squeeze the shoulder places together, then lower back down. Repeat 10 times.
Finally, sit in a comfortable cross-legged position. Rest your hands on your knees and as you breathe out pull your belly button in towards the back of the room (crunching your abs). Keep pulsing your naval in and out to work your core, repeating 30 times.
Stephanie Mansour is a health and fitness expert and weight-loss coach for women. She is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor and Pilates instructor, and host of “Step It Up with Steph” on American Public Television.