Published on 11/09/11

Find time to exercise this holiday season

By April Reese Sorrow

Traveling to visit family and friends during the holiday season doesn’t have to take time away from exercise, says a University of Georgia nutrition expert.

“Visiting someone over the holiday doesn’t mean you have to sit at their house,” said Connie Crawley, a food, nutrition and health specialist with UGA Cooperative Extension. “Invite your company to exercise with you, or leave them behind and find your way around a new place.”

Crawley offers 10 tips on how to stay active over the holidays.

1. Get to the airport early enough to walk to your flight’s concourse. Or, walk the entire way from the security check area to the last concourse before you go to your gate. At the airport in Atlanta, that distance is about a mile or a brisk 15-minute one-way walk. Add a backpack and you are adding some strength training.

2. When traveling by car, take a break and walk for 10-15 minutes at least every 2 hours. Many cities have parks. Check online for state parks along your route. A short walk can improve circulation, stiff muscles and joints, alertness and mood.

3. If you belong to a YMCA or other fitness center, check for reciprocal agreements or day passes that can be obtained at fitness centers in your destination city.

4. If you stay at a hotel, look into the fitness center and be sure to pack your workout clothes and shoes. Some places may also have an agreement for using an off-site fitness center nearby. Also check for walking trails and other locations where you can add some variety to your workout.

5. If you are visiting friends or relatives, plan group activities. Take a bike ride on a greenway, a walk to see holiday decorations, enjoy a friendly game of touch football, golf or basketball or even some badminton, ping pong or bowling. In northern states, sledding, skiing or ice skating may be options.

6. When shopping at a mall, park as far away from the store as possible. Then walk the entire mall before you go there.

7. If getting outside is hard, dance to music or march in front of the TV for 30 minutes.

8. Pack rubber tubing or stretch bands in your suitcase to use to keep muscles toned.

9. Download yoga or Pilate’s workouts off the Web to take along, or bring an instruction book or DVD.

10. Buy fitness equipment, books or apparel as holiday gifts that others will be able to use not only during your visit, but also all year long.

April R. Sorrow is a science writer with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.

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