Category Archives: Exercise

Morning Versus Evening: What’s the Best Time to Exercise?

There are two kinds of people in this world: people who exercise at the crack of dawn before starting their day, and people who wouldn’t even dream of tying on those gym shoes until evening. Okay, so maybe there are some variations of this, like people who work out on their lunch break or people who don’t work out at all, but we’re going to keep it simple and discuss working out in the morning versus the evening and whether there’s a greater benefit to exercising at a specific time of the day.

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The Bottom Line

We’re going to get right to the point here: there is no good evidence to suggest that working out at a certain time of day is more beneficial for everyone. Morning workouts have specific advantages, while exercising in the evening also has its perks; but if there’s one thing the experts agree on it’s this: the most important thing about working out is consistency. It doesn’t matter what time of day you do it, as long as you do it regularly.

That being said, we’re still going to break down the benefits of morning exercise versus evening exercise to help you decide which choice is best for you.

Benefits of Exercising in the Morning

  • As a general rule, research has shown that exercising in the morning leads to greater consistency. When you get your workout in right away, there is less of a chance that a stressful day, fatigue, or other plans will derail you from your routine.
  • Research has also shown that exercising in the morning can create a domino effect of healthy choices throughout the day. When you start your day with a workout, you’re more likely to eat a healthier breakfast, drink more water, and make the choices that keep you on track to reaching your goals.
  • If you’re hitting the gym to exercise, you may prefer the morning for your workout. Statistics shows that gyms are usually the busiest between the hours of 5 and 8 p.m. Getting there in the morning means that you’ll have easier access to the gym equipment you need, and just a quieter scene, if that’s what you prefer.
  • People who work out in the morning tend to get more sleep than people who work out in the evening because the anticipation of an early wake-up call prompts them to go to bed sooner.

Benefits of Exercising in the Evening

  • Even if you’re a morning person, finding the strength to exercise first thing can be difficult. Research shows that people who work out in the evening tend to exercise at a greater intensity than people who work out in the morning. Evening exercisers also tend to be more alert, making accidents and injuries less likely.
  • Let’s face it, long days can be stressful and working out is a great tool to relieve that stress. Working out in the evening gives you time to release that stress in a healthy way, instead of hitting happy hour or turning to comfort foods.
  • According to research, workouts tend to be more effective when your body temperature is higher; whereas cold body temperatures leave muscles stiff and more susceptible to injury. Because body temperature naturally increases throughout the day, muscle strength and endurance tend to be better in the afternoon and evening.

Exercise Recommendations

Regardless of when you decide to exercise, you have to do it enough to reap the benefits. Of course, depending on your specific goals, you may have to work out harder or longer, or target specific muscle areas, but the American Heart Association set basic guidelines for everyone as a baseline: at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise; or at least 75 minutes per week of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise.

Ultimately, the choice on whether you exercise best in the morning or in the evening is yours. The most important thing is consistency, so choose whatever time allows you to stick to your routine. You can even change it up from day to day, as long as you get it done!

Your Lymphatic System: Part 2

Last week, when we talked about your lymphatic system, we gave you some quick tips about what you can do to keep this vital system thriving. We didn’t get into detail about the “how” or the “why”behind some of these tips yet, because we thought that some of these important techniques deserved their own post.

dry skin brushOne of the most important things you can do to keep your lymphatic system healthy and flowing as it should is MOVE YOUR BODY. Unlike your blood, which is moved through your body by the force exerted by your heart when it beats, the only way lymph fluid can move is if you move your body around.

Any movement helps your lymph, but there are two techniques that are particularly effective: dry brushing and rebounding.

Dry Skin Brushing

Your skin is your body’s largest organ. It’s not only responsible for keeping everything (your bones and muscles) in place, it’s one of the major ways your body detoxes. Dry skin brushing, which involves using a natural bristle brush to brush the surface of the skin, helps stimulate the lymphatic system by breaking down lymph fluids that have thickened due to the accumulation of toxins in the body. When the thickened lymph fluid is broken down, it’s flows through the body more easily, and as a result, it helps produce more white blood cells to help you fight off infection.

How to Do It:

Using long, upward strokes (you always want to brush toward your heart), start brushing your skin at your feet and work up your legs, brushing one leg at a time. Move from your legs up to your stomach and back and across your chest (avoiding brushing directly on the breast). Brush each arm up toward the underarm area. The whole process takes only 5 to 10 minutes. Because dry skin brushing can stimulate the body, it’s best done first thing in the morning, before you shower/start your day. As the name implies, the skin should be dry during the entire process.

dry skin brushing

Rebounding

Rebounding is a fancy term for jumping on a mini-trampoline. The up and down motion of the jump stimulates all of your internal organs, moves cerebral spinal fluid and the fluid around the eyes, and improves digestion. Rebounding helps move lymph fluid increasing detoxification and can make the white blood cells of your immune system more active. Jumping on a solid surface doesn’t have the same effect, so it’s important to make sure your jumping on a trampoline.

How to Do It:

You can effectively rebound with any mini-trampoline — all you have to do is jump up and down. While rebounding, wear loose comfortable clothes — nothing that’s too tight or restricting. The goal is to allow your body to move and wiggle a bit. The more wiggle, the more effectively the jumping is flushing out your lymphatic system.

As you begin, you may find that you can’t rebound for very long, but work your way up to about 15 to 20 minutes per day. If you need to, you can break up the time into three five-minute sessions throughout the course of the day. Keep a moderate pace — one that makes you breathe a little heavier, but doesn’t make you as out of breath as a run would.

Fasted Exercise: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

exerciseAlthough it’s getting a lot of attention in the fitness world in recent months, fasted exercise – or working out on an empty stomach – is not a new idea. Some people have been swearing by fasted exercise since the very beginning, while others just swear that it’s a waste of time. Like always, we wanted to get down to the science to figure out if you should be working out after you eat or before, but here’s what we found: it depends. We know that’s not really the answer you want, but the best way for you to workout depends on you as an individual. That being said, we’ve scoured through the science to share with you the reasons people swear by fasted exercise and how it may be able to help you.

Hormone Balance

One of the major ways fasted exercise can optimize by your health is by improving insulin sensitivity – or the way the body responds to insulin, the hormone that takes sugar out of the blood and moves it into your cells for energy. When you eat too much, your body is exposed to a constant barrage of insulin and eventually, it causes an overload. By working out before eating, you’re not only giving your body a break from releasing insulin into the blood, but you’re also burning up any excess insulin that’s there. When your body responds to insulin in a healthy way it makes it easier to lose fat and improves blood flow to muscles, making them easier to build. (Note: if you have Type 1 Diabetes, please speak with your doctor. Fasted exercise may not be right for you.)

Fasted exercise also has an impact on the production of growth hormone (or GH), which not only helps burn fat and increase muscle tissue, but also improves bone health. One of the best ways to increase the body’s production of GH is through fasting. Combine that fasting with exercise and you get all the effects mentioned above, plus the added benefit of growth hormone circulating through your system.

Fat Burn

Research also shows that fasted exercise ensures that carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are being used up properly by the body, rather than simply being stored as fat. Because of this, fasted exercise has been shown to be particularly effective at increasing the rate at which you burn and lose fat.

Note: While fasted exercise does have implications for speeding up fat burning and weight loss, your workout is really only as good as your effort. If you try fasted exercise and you have no energy to get through your workout, that can actually work against you. Listen to your body, and adjust your meal plan accordingly.

Get Your Burn On: Different Types of Exercises

When discussing exercise, you’ve probably heard terms like cardio, strength-training or resistance. If you’re not an exercise pro – and let’s face it – most of us aren’t, all of these terms can be confusing. While you don’t have to be an expert, it’s helpful to know the different types of exercise and how you can incorporate them into your life to stay healthy and to meet your weight loss goals. Although you may have some types of exercise that are your favorite, the best exercise regimen generally includes all of the different types of exercise.

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Cardiovascular

Cardiovascular, which is also called aerobic or endurance, exercise involves using the large muscles in your arms and legs to increase your heart and breathing rate. Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It also improves your heart and lung health overall. Because cardiovascular exercise tends to be higher impact than other types of exercise, it’s also generally the best type of exercise for burning calories.

Examples of cardiovascular exercise include running, walking, swimming, biking, stair-climbing, and using the elliptical machine. Aim for at least 30 to 60 minutes of some type of cardiovascular exercise on most days of the week.

Resistance

Many people, especially women, shy away from resistance training for fear of “bulking up” but this type of exercise can actually do the opposite. Resistance exercise does increase muscle mass, which increases strength and endurance; but this doesn’t mean you’ll look bigger. In fact, because muscles are denser than fat, building muscle can actually make you leaner.

There are two main types of resistance exercises – free weights and weight machines – but you can also use your own body weight for resistance training by doing things like squats and push-ups. Incorporate resistance training two to three times per week, making sure to rotate muscle groups.

Flexibility

You’ve heard that you need to warm-up and stretch your muscles before and after exercise, but do you actually do it? If not, you should. Flexibility exercises, like stretching, warm up your muscles and joints, which makes you less likely to get injured. Regularly engaging in flexibility type exercises can also increase your range of motion and improve balance. It’s best to do some type of flexibility exercise every day.

Remember, when stretching, you should feel tension, but it should not be painful. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds, but don’t bounce. Bouncing can actually cause small muscle tears that increase your risk of injury.

Relaxation

Relaxation exercises are increasing in popularity as people begin to realize that staying healthy requires you to exercise your mind as well as your body. Relaxation exercises, like yoga or tai chi, use a combination of focused breathing, meditation, and balance to improve mental health, reduce stress, decrease blood pressure, and calm your nerves. These types of exercises can also increase flexibility, improve balance, and strengthen the muscles, especially your core.

Don’t get us wrong, though. These exercises can be a challenge and you’ll see some amazing aesthetic results as well.

What are your favorite exercises? Do you incorporate each type of exercise into your weekly routine? If not, which type of exercise are you excited to try next?

Does the Shoe Fit? How to Choose Athletic Shoes

After a hiatus that lasted longer than expected, you’ve made the decision to get back into an exercise routine. You’ve already figured out where you’re going to work out (some of you are going back to the gym, while others are choosing an at-home routine); but now you need to get into the proper gear to make sure you get the job done right. One of the most important things you’ll need to get is the right workout shoe. You walk into the shoe store and stare at the full wall of athletic shoes with your jaw on the ground. When did they start making so many different styles? And how the heck will you choose?

Sneaker

It can be overwhelming if you get sucked in, but we’re here to help you narrow it down so that you can choose the shoe that works best for you and avoid getting distracted by the rest.

Figuring Out Your Fit

As an adult, you’re probably pretty confident that you know your shoe size, right? Not so fast. In 2014, a study estimated that up to one-third of people are wearing the wrong size shoe! In addition to being extremely uncomfortable (can you say sore, tired feet?), wearing the wrong shoe size can create health problems, like bunions, blisters, and heel pain.

Another uncommonly known fact is that your shoe size can actually change in small, but meaningful ways as you age. If it’s been more than a year since you’ve had your foot measured, make sure to go get that done before doing anything else. Once you’ve determined your accurate shoe size, you can move on to the next step – and that’s figuring out your style.

Choosing a Style

Even if the shoe fits, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should be wearing it. You also have to consider your foot shape and what exercise you’re going to be doing. Are you buying a shoe for yoga? Is running your exercise of choice? Are you more of an elliptical type of person? Once you’ve decided what your main objective is, then you’ll be able to narrow down your choices by shoe type.

If you’re planning to do aerobic-type exercises, you’ll need a lightweight, aerobic shoe that has shock absorption right under the ball of your foot. If you’re going to start jogging or running, choose a running shoe that gives you balance and allows for more flexibility in the toe area. If you’re not really sure what activity you’re going to be doing – or you want to try a range of different activities – a cross trainer may be your best bet. Cross trainers are a good general athletic shoe because they combine several features, like shock absorption, a flexible toe, and a lightweight body.

Considering Your Shoe Shape

Once you’ve decided on a style, you still have to figure out what shape will work best for you. Some shoes are made for narrow feet with a high arch, while others are made for wider, flatter feet. Most athletic shoes have three sole options – straight, curved, or semi-curved. If your feet are flat, you’ll want a straight sole. If you have high arches, a curved sole and lots of cushioning is a better bet. If you have a normal arch, you can get away with any of the sole styles.

If you’re unsure of where you stand as far as foot arches go, you can do a quick test at home to figure it out. Wet your foot and step on a dry paper towel. If the imprint left behind is your whole food, you have flat feet. If you leave an imprint of a solid heel and your toes, but the arch is missing, you have a high arch.

Pro Tip:

It’s best to shop for athletic shoes at the end of the day instead of first thing in the morning. Your feet tend to swell as the day goes on, so trying them on later in the day will make sure that the shoe doesn’t get too tight when blood flows to your feet when you’re exercising. You should also wear the athletic socks that you plan to wear to the gym when trying on a new pair of shoes. Athletic socks tend to be thicker than other types of socks – like dress socks – to provide extra cushion, but this also means that they’ll take up more space in the shoe.

Your shoe should fit firmly in the heel, but give you about a quarter of an inch of space between your longest toe and the inside edge of the shoe. Wiggle your toes, jump around, and jog in place to make sure the shoes are comfortable. They should feel somewhat comfortable out of the box. Unlike leather dress shoes, you typically don’t need to break in athletic shoes.

Childhood Obesity: An American Epidemic

fast foodChildhood obesity is increasing at an alarming rate in America. In fact, the World Health Organization describes childhood obesity as one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century. Because of this, Valley Medical offers an effective weight loss program for kids. Over the past 3 decades, the rate of childhood obesity in the United States has tripled. As of 2012, more than one-third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. While different factors – like genetics, amount of exercise, and other environmental factors – play a role in obesity, nutrition – what kids are/aren’t eating – is largely to blame. Before we get into what you can do to help reduce these numbers, let’s talk about the consequences of childhood obesity and why it matters so much.

The Health Risk

Being obese in your childhood has both short-term and long-term consequences. Obese children are more likely to have pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, which are all risk factors for heart disease that were once “adult-only” issues. Obese children are also more likely to develop sleep apnea and have bone and joint problems. It’s not just about physical health though — obesity also takes a toll on a child’s mental health, as well. Reports show that obese children report feeling secluded from their peers and often have low self-esteem.

Children who are obese are also more likely to stay obese as they enter adulthood, which only increases the risk of these health problems – and many others, like stroke and cancer.

What’s to Blame?

It’s impossible to point the finger at just one cause of childhood obesity. It’s a myriad of factors that when combined are a recipe for disaster. Increased consumption of fast and processed foods, a lack of exercise and more time sitting indoors, and increasing intake of sugary beverages like soda are all party to blame. According to a 2003 article in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” 64 to 83 percent of school-age children and adolescents drink soda. The more soda a child drinks, the less water and milk that child consumes. Because milk is rich in vitamin D, vitamin B-12, vitamin B-2, protein, and calcium, intake of these nutrients also falls as soda consumption increases. Children who eat fast food regularly also tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables than kids who don’t eat fast food as often. As a result, children who regularly eat fast food gain an extra 6 pounds per year, on average.

What Can You Do?

Combating the issue of childhood obesity starts at home. Sure, there are outside influences, like friends, sleepovers, and school lunches that come into play, but if you do your best to control what you can, you’re off to a really great start. First of all, avoid fast food as much as possible. Yes, it’s cheap, but the nutritional consequences are expensive. A large hamburger packs about 600 calories and 35 grams of fat, while a small order of fries adds an additional 200 calories and 10 grams of fat. Add a small soda to complete the meal and you’ve reached almost 1,000 calories just for that meal. In addition to avoiding fast food, encourage vegetable consumption as much as possible. Offer vegetables with every meal and let your child experiment with different options. Sometimes adults are quick to say “oh, my child won’t eat that” but how do you know if you’ve never given it a chance?

In addition to focusing on nutrition, encourage active play. A lot of children nowadays are glued to video games and social media and tablets and because of this, they don’t get the exercise they need. Exercise isn’t important just for maintaining a healthy weight, it’s also important for increasing self-confidence and boosting mood. Get out there and play WITH your children. Show them that it’s a good idea to take a break from the electronics every once in a while and really get connected with each other.

We understand that it’s difficult to keep up in this fast-paced world, but when you know better, you can do better – and that’s the message we’re trying to share here.

Exercise and Weight Loss: Do You Burn More Calories in the Morning?

exerciseLast post, we briefly discussed the importance of exercise for maintaining weight loss. If you’ve been paying any attention at all, the fact that proper eating and regular exercise help you lose weight (and keep it off) is really no surprise at all; but we wanted to go a little bit further. Did you know that WHEN you exercise may also have an effect on your weight loss and ability to burn fat?

A study published in The Journal of Physiology in 2010 reported that working out first thing in the morning before you ate breakfast may actually set you up for increased fat burn throughout the day as well as boosted energy. The study looked at three groups of healthy men with different exercise routines. All participants were asked to follow the same diet structure – 50 percent more fat and around 30 percent excess calories. The first group of men didn’t exercise at all; the second group of men exercised after breakfast; and the third group of men worked out before breakfast. The study lasted six weeks and the exercise routine was the same.

After the six weeks, the group of men who didn’t exercise at all gained around 6 pounds each (not surprisingly).  The group of men who exercised after eating breakfast gained about 3 pounds each. The group of men who exercised before breakfast didn’t gain any weight; but that’s not the only important finding. Researchers also found that the men who didn’t exercise or exercised after breakfast developed some insulin to resistance (a condition that can eventually lead to diabetes) while the insulin levels of the men who exercised before breakfast stayed healthy.

So now you may be wondering – WHY? What’s the benefit of working out pre-meal?

Well, one benefit is that it forces the body to tap into stored fat to fuel the workout rather than just simply burning off the carbohydrates and calories that you just took in from your most recent meal. The daylight of an early morning workout may also give your metabolism a boost. When you align your circadian rhythm – the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that respond to light and dark – with the natural rise and fall of the sun, you tend to burn more calories throughout the day.

The moral of this story is this: Combining regular exercise with a healthy diet is important; and while working out at any time of the day is beneficial, working out before breakfast may give you the extra boost you need to lose more weight and keep it off.

Things You Should Be Doing NOW to Get in Shape for Summer.

VM summer bodiesThere’s a popular phrase that says “summer bodies are made in the winter”, which in layman’s terms means that you should be really honing your diet and exercise routine in during the winter, so that you can strut your stuff come summertime. Unfortunately, it’s pretty easy to fall into the opposite trap: bulking up like a hibernating bear since you’ll be wearing more clothes and you need to make sure you’re warm, right?  There’s just something about the cooler weather that makes you want to indulge in comfort foods, but since nicer weather is on the horizon, it’s time to really kick it into gear. Even if you’ve gained some weight this winter, the time is now to start doing the things that can help get you into shape for summer.

  • Find an indoor workout routine that you love. Let’s face it: going outside is not just as exciting in the winter, which is the perfect excuse to skip your workout, right? Wrong! There are SO many workout DVDs available now that you’re bound to find one that you love. And the good news is that many of these workout DVDs only require you to work out for a half an hour. That’s only 2 percent of your entire day. TWO PERCENT! You can find the time. Try something fun – like Zumba or a dance routine. If you’re into something a little quieter, do beginner’s yoga. You can even find a lot of these routines on YouTUBE for free, so you don’t have to shell out any extra cash.
  • Fill up on broths and teas. It’s natural to want warm, comforting foods during the winter – that’s actually your body’s innate physiological intelligence at work – but instead of filling up on creamy soups and cheesy dishes, opt for broth-based soups and herbal teas. These hot liquids are low in calories, so they fill you up for less and they’re loaded with nutrients. Try to make your own broth-based soups at home so you can control the ingredients. Use lots of veggies and plenty of spices. Switch up your teas, since different herbs are beneficial in their own ways. Chamomile can reduce stress, while peppermint can aid with digestion.
  • Wear your “summer clothes”. Okay, we don’t want you to walk around in sundresses and shorts when it’s chilly out, but trying these things on every once in a while during the winter months can help keep you on track. Yoga pants and cardigans are a lot more forgiving than shorts and dresses, so the comfort of these clothes can make you feel like you’re on track when you’re actually gaining weight. Nothing says “I need to get back on track” like trying on some skinny jeans in February.
  • Join a group activity. If you’ve fallen off the wagon this winter, getting the motivation to get back on track can be difficult. Often, when we’re only accountable to ourselves, we tend to blow off our plans. Make yourself accountable to others by joining a group activity – it may be a boxing class or a running club or a yoga event. Choose something that you like and stick to the schedule. If you can’t find a group activity that you like, get a friend on board. Check in with each other daily and hold each other accountable.

Breaking News: The Hottest Fitness Trends of 2015

With body weight training, you use resistance bands in all sorts of different ways to get a full body workout.
With body weight training, you use resistance bands in all sorts of different ways to get a full body workout.

The New Year may have just started, but researchers are already taking some educated guesses as to what the hottest fitness trends of the 2015 will be. CrossFit – a training program that gives you a full body workout using elements of cardio, weight lifting, gymnastics, and core training – was all the rage in 2014, but will the still popular workout take the crown in 2015? Not necessarily. The American College of Sports Medicine seems to think that more and more individuals will turn to body weight training, functional training, and the super short workout instead.

Body Weight Training

The basic idea behind body weight training is exactly what it sounds like – you rely on your body weight to get a full body workout. Body weight training may include the use of workout gear like resistance bands and cables, but it doesn’t involve using any heavy gym equipment like weights or cardio machines. One of the major benefits of body weight training is that it tends to be cheaper than other types of workouts and since you only need your body and a few inexpensive resistance bands, you can pretty much do it anytime and anywhere. Another benefit to body weight training is that you’re less likely to injury yourself because you’re not using heavy weights or trying to learn how to use a workout machine that you’ve never even seen before.

Functional Training

“Functional” is a huge buzzword right now. Functional doctors, functional nutritionists, and now functional training are making huge headway in the health field. So what exactly does “functional” mean? As far as training goes, the word functional describes focusing on things like developing proper posture and increasing flexibility and balance instead of cardio and strength training. The idea behind functional training is that when you correct your posture and increase your balance and flexibility, your fitness level will increase and you will experience harmony between your muscles and joints and an increased range of motion. So does that translate to weight loss? Not as much as cardio, strength training, and body weight training, but it does improve your overall health, which is extremely important.

Super Short Workout

In a world of people that are so pressed for time, it’s no surprise that the super short workout is slated to be one of the biggest fitness trends of 2015. Just like it sounds, the super short workout aims to get all the benefits of a 30-minute exercise session in less than half the time. Most super short workouts rely on interval training, which alternates a minute of high-intensity exercise with a minute of lower-intensity exercise. You repeat this 2-minute alternating cycle anywhere from 5 to 10 times and then you’re done. It may seem like the easy way out, but you really do get a lot of bang for your buck with these workouts. Plus, a study found that people at risk of diabetes who participated in 12 minutes of these interval style workouts 3 times a day were able to control their blood sugar levels better than people who participated in a continuous 30-minute walk instead. This brings us back to the 7-minute workout app we discussed in our previous post. Maybe these fitness gurus are on to something!

Quick Tips to Stick To Your Exercise Routine through the Holidays

people-278503_1280The holidays are a busy time – you’re shopping, you’re traveling, you’re going to parties, you’re hosting parties, and you have family and friends visiting from out of town. It’s really easy – and tempting – to say “you know what, I’m just too busy to work out right now, I’ll get back on track after the holidays”, but resist the urge!

Nixing your workout routine is a quick way to pack on the pounds, especially because you’re likely to overindulge in the food department over the next few weeks. Another problem is that if you let yourself fall out of your routine, it’s so much harder to get back into it once the New Year arrives. Instead of foregoing exercise completely, adjust your routine so that it fits into your holiday schedule. In addition to minimizing the potential for holiday weight gain, regular exercise can also reduce your stress levels so that you’re able to tackle your to-do list with greater ease.

Tip #1: Plan ahead. Schedule your workouts like you would any other commitment and treat them as such. You wouldn’t blow off lunch with your best friend at the last minute, would you? So don’t blow yourself off. Literally, write your workouts down on your calendar or put reminders in your phone and stick to it. You may have to juggle some things around or wake up earlier to find the time to exercise, but it will be worth it.

Tip #2: Mix it up. During the holidays you may not be able to hit your local gym 6 days a week like you usually do, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work out at all. Use what you’ve got and workout whenever and wherever you can. If you’re traveling, go for a walk or hit the local gym and see if you can score a free week pass. If you have houseguests, ask them if they want to go for a hike or a bike ride to see the town.

Tip #3: Combine your commitments. On the days you have prior commitments, turn those commitments into exercise. If you’re getting together with your siblings, nieces and nephews, turn it into an adventure. Go hiking or sledding or swimming at an indoor pool instead of going out to lunch or sitting around the house. If you turn family time into an activity, you can kill two birds with one stone.

Tip #4: Adjust your expectations. You may not be able to get in hour-long workouts every day during the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work out at all. Many people take an all-or-nothing approach to exercise, and that’s counterproductive. Just because you can’t fit in an hour of exercise doesn’t mean you can’t work out at all. Do circuit exercises – which combine cardio exercise with strength training – for 20 minutes. You’ll scorch more calories in less time, getting more bang for your buck.

Tip #5: Partner up. It’ll be easier to quit your routine if you feel like you’re the only person in the world staying on track during the holidays. Instead of going it alone, make a pact with a friend or family member to hold each other accountable. You can schedule workouts together or just make it a point to check in with each other every day – or a few times a week – to make sure that you’re sticking to your routine. When you’re accountable to someone else, you’re less likely to veer off track.