How to Burn Calories Through the Holiday Season


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If you’re a stickler about diet and exercise, the holidays probably make you feel a little ho-hum about your health. Let’s face it: a regular workout routine isn’t really an option between family time and party time, and, oh, the food… sugar cookies, cocoa and pies, oh my!

However, Jimmy Minardi, founder of Minardi Training, says you’re probably looking at your fitness and diet regimen the wrong way. “Your training should be set up on a 12 month cycle – not month to month,” he explains.

“This is a time of the year to resign yourself to the fact that you’ll need to take a few days off for family, festivities and food and use some creativity to squeeze in some exercise where you can without feeling guilty about it,” Minardi says. “Having negative feelings about missing a workout is the key reason people give up their workouts all together.”

Here are a few ways to burn calories through the holiday season while keeping it “light and fun,” according to Minardi.

1. Walk up and down the front steps of your home carrying a bag of groceries.

walk steps with groceries

TIME: 15 min.

BENEFIT: Works glutes, calves, quadriceps, triceps and shoulders

CALORIES BURNED: 60

Minardi’s tip: “Stairs or any uphill climbs are a great way to fully engage your muscles and maximize the benefits of the outdoor elements, therefore allowing you to cut back on the time you spend in frigid temperatures.”

2. Take a walk through the snow or on the beach.

walk through snow

TIME: 30 min

BENEFIT: Targets abdominals, increases pelvic stabilization and mobility; increases cardiovascular strength

CALORIES BURNED: 200

Minardi’s tip: “The resistance you get walking on the beach, sand or snow takes your workout to a whole new level. You can exert over 30 percent more effort working out on the beach or in the snow doing the same exercises you do in the gym, burning more calories. The unstable surfaces help to strengthen muscle fibers and ligaments that surround the joints, which will help prevent injuries.”

3. Use raking leaves, shoveling snow or other yard work as exercise.

shovel snow

TIME: 30 minutes

BENEFIT: Targets abdominals, increases pelvic stabilization and mobility; boosts cardiovascular strength

CALORIES BURNED: varies

Minardi’s tip: “It’s all about your environment. A recent study showed outdoor exercise is associated with greater feelings of revitalization, increased energy and positive engagement, while decreasing tension and depression.”

4. Plank in between food prep.

plank in between meals

TIME: varies

BENEFIT: Develops core strength; works shoulders, arms, and glutes

CALORIES BURNED: 50

Minardi’s tip: “In a push-up position, lock your arms so they are straight, directly below your shoulders. Keep your body still in an elevated position for 20 seconds; repeat five times.”

5. Do jumping jacks while you wait on your dinner.

jumping jacks while you wait

TIME: 25 jacks, repeat 3 times

BENEFIT: Provides a full-body workout; cardio, agility, targets every muscle group

CALORIES BURNED: 100

Minardi’s tip: “A watched pot never boils. Waiting to put the pasta in? Use jumping jacks for a quick workout while you’re waiting.”

6. Lunge to the laundry room.

indoor lunges

TIME: 10 min; do 2 sets, rest and repeat

BENEFIT: Works glutes, calves, quadriceps, triceps and shoulders

CALORIES BURNED: 100

Minardi’s tip: “Find a long hallway or room, keep your knees aligned, front knee over your shoe and back knee pointing down. Step forward and lunge into a deep squat; the deeper the squat the more effective the exercise. Use light weights to work your arms, and alternate legs.”

BONUS! Take the kids to an outdoor gym (if the weather permits).

Minardi’s tip: “Head to any public playground, field, or park provides a wealth of outdoor gym ‘equipment’ to keep your muscles and your heart active and strong.”


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