While the holidays are a great time of food, fun, festivities and family, it can also be a trying time to maintain health and fitness. If you encounter sweets and decadent treats at every turn, it might be time to look at which workouts are effective at keeping the holiday weight off.
Jean Chen Smith is a Pilates studio owner and personal trainer with over 10 years of experience who focuses on healthy lifestyle and eating choices.
Running is the exercise most people think of when they want to start a weight loss program. Not only is running effective for cardiovascular health, it’s free and accessible to everyone. All you need is a pair of sneakers and you can head out the door. Running works the entire body – legs, glutes, core and even arms. The key is to increase intensity as your body gets used to the movement such as adding sprint work or hill runs. Both of these will get your heart rate up and create a spike in your metabolism. Make sure to always check your form by keeping your arms swinging straight forward and back instead of side to side and look straight ahead so that your chin is parallel to the ground.
2. Weight training
Weight training is an effective method to help build muscle and burn fat. Lifting weights has been shown to increase your resting metabolic rate, which means your body burns more calories even when you're not working out. The term “afterburn effect” means even after you’ve completed your session, your body is still using that energy. By adding weight training to your routine two to three days a week and incorporating a cardio-based workout, most people can see results.
Pilates is low-impact exercise that helps to strengthen muscles while improving posture and flexibility. Pilates focuses on the core using concentrated breath and movement. People of all ages and fitness levels can do Pilates to reap the benefits. Good instructors always offer modifications for people who are injured and recovering. During these times of COVID-19, many studios and fitness centers are offering Zoom classes at discounted rates, allowing students to exercise in the comfort of their own home. The only drawback to this is that the instructor is not present to offer assistance and suggestions on proper alignment.
Swimming is an exercise that will build endurance, strength and cardiovascular fitness by moving your entire body against the resistance of water. In addition, due to the buoyancy of water, impact stress to your body is reduced, making it a great choice for those with some types of injuries or limitations. Developing correct technique is important to becoming an efficient swimmer, keeping the mind engaged and training sessions interesting.
High-intensity interval training is a form of exercise where your heart rate spikes and then comes down. You do this several times – going hard for an interval followed by active rest and recovery. HIIT can include rowing, spinning or even sprinting. The more energy you expend in your output, the higher the calorie burn will be. The great thing about HIIT is that it’s not an endurance sport, so only 20 minutes a session is sufficient.
Boxing can burn up to 600 calories or more if done intensively. Along with weight loss, it can also build muscle, which is important as we age. Considered a cardio workout, boxing works the entire body as you move. Because boxing is an interactive sport, you can have fun while doing so.
7. The other tricks
Even with a workout routine, it is essential to understand that there are so many other factors that contribute to weight gain. According to recent studies, lack of sleep can be a cause for concern in packing on the extra pounds. Make sure you are getting at least 7 hours of quality sleep so that your body is well-rested for the day ahead.
The holidays can be a stressful time for many people. Look to reduce and minimize stress in your daily life. Meditation has been shown to calm the mind and aid in relaxation. People tend to overeat while under duress and look to high calorie comfort foods to feel better, but they begin to feel worse after consuming these unhealthy foods.
Eating right is a lifestyle. A “cheat” meal here and there is not going to sabotage your weight loss. However, if they become more frequent than not, take the time to reevaluate your daily intake of foods and seek out healthier choices.