The end of the year brings tons of holiday commitments, shorter days to keep up with them, longer nights for partying and sleeping and a general mood that it’s time to hibernate with the bears when you’re not working or reveling.
Everyone’s vulnerable to falling into this trap, but letting your momentum sag can really do damage to your fitness level.
Studies about the reversibility of aerobic fitness gains, as measured in maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) and blood volume, have found it occurs within 10 days to four weeks of cutting back or ceasing physical activity.
The most fit among us lose the most ground fastest, since they have more lung and heart capacity to lose, but it happens for everyone. Muscular fitness is a bit more durable, but performance begins to sag somewhere around four to six weeks.
Here are some ways to keep yourself on track, whatever kind of fitness track you’re on, over the holidays:
You’re taking a break
Think of your workouts as breaks from the holiday hubbub, a chance to step back from all the shopping and eating and traveling and socializing crammed into these few weeks. They’re always a killer stress reliever.
Change up your regimen
This is something you need to do periodically anyway, so this can be the perfect way to put wind in your sails when you’re having trouble coasting past those trays of cookies or cooler of beer at holiday parties.
Pick daytime or nighttime
You should have an established schedule anyway, but making that commitment is even more important at year’s end for maintaining your fitness momentum. Stores have longer hours during the holidays, so it’s easier to fit decent shopping trips around work, family and workouts. Pick whichever end of the day you’re most likely to engage with your exercise and use the other for accomplishing holiday-related chores.
Try a hit of HITT
If you’re in decent shape and comfortable with your form as you do various moves you might want to try high-intensity interval training. It’s been a buzzword for a while now because science has shown it gives you results fast — it’s a shortcut you may not be able to sustain forever, but it can get you out of a holiday time crunch.
Don’t skimp on sleep
Sure, this might cut slightly into your total available amount of time, but you’re so much more refreshed and ready to take on your half-hour run or doing a full circuit at the gym or home. It also keeps your immune system working full strength against all those winter bugs we run into.
Try some new gear
Don’t wait for Santa to bring that new mountain bike or pair of AirPods you’ve asked for! Splurge on it now so you’ll have that much more fun while you work out!