woman stretching at home

During the holidays, it's even harder than usual to find time to make it to the gym. Between shopping and entertaining family visitors, you might feel like you don't have time to work out at all.

But with big festive meals in your near future, the holidays are no time to skimp on fitness. By working out at home with these simple techniques, you can save time and stay in shape all season long:

Stair Climbing

When the holidays are in full swing, you can stay active by using what's right around you at home. If you have stairs in your house, or even a few steps up to your front door, why not use them to get some light cardio exercise? Set your kitchen timer for 10 minutes, and stride carefully up and down the stairs until the timer goes off. You can even multitask while you work out by talking on the phone or listening to tunes to plan your holiday playlist.

Simple Resistance Exercises

You don't need a weight room to engage in simple strength training and resistance exercises. You can help maintain your strength, tone your muscles, and prevent injury by doing a few straightforward resistance exercises from the comfort of your own home:

  • Living room push-ups: Lie on your stomach on the carpet or floor, keeping your hands positioned on the ground just over shoulder-width apart. Extend your arms into a push-up while pressing your thighs and upper body off of the floor. Hold the position for a few seconds, and then lower yourself back toward the ground, maintaining control of your posture. Repeat 10 times, then rest for a minute before performing another set.
  • Home-style standing calf raise. Stand near a wall, keeping your feet close together. Then flex your left leg, lifting your left foot off the ground. Contract your right calf and come onto the toes of your right foot, lifting your right heel as high as you can off the ground without straining. Keep your hands touching the wall to maintain your balance before slowly lowering your right heel back down. Repeat the exercise 10 times, and then switch legs.

Basic Stretches

Don't forget the importance of stretching to compliment your cardio and strengthening efforts. Stretching can improve your blood flow, prevent your muscles from getting too stiff from holiday preparations, and help bring down your tension and stress. It's easy to squeeze in a few basic stretches even at the busiest times this season by trying some from home:

  • Chair stretch. To stretch your hips, legs, and neck, go to your kitchen table, and place your right heel on a chair, in front of you, while keeping both of your legs straight. Take a deep breath and raise both of your arms over your head. Breathe out while you stretch forward over your extended right leg--if you can reach it, grab onto the back of the chair. Then inhale deeply again, and return to a standing position. Switch legs, then repeat the stretch.
  • Forward bend: To stretch your shoulders, back, and hamstrings, you can try an easy set of forward bends. Just sit on the floor, keeping your upper body straight and tall. With your legs stretched out in front of you, exhale and bend from your hips, stretching your upper body forward over your legs. Reach forward as far as you can comfortably--if you can't reach your feet, you can rest your hands at your sides. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, continuing to breathe normally. Then inhale, return to the starting position. Repeat this stretch as desired.

HealthAhead Hint: No Action Is Too Small

On days when you feel like you can't add one more "to-do" to your list, you can still find ways to build physical activity into your schedule. Try integrating extra movement into your holiday planning, such as making a few extra laps of the mall while shopping, or parking further away from your destination to add extra walking time. Despite the holiday bustle, with a little patience and creativity, you can stay active and healthy this season.