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The key to holiday fitness is behaving more like Rudolph and less like Santa

Tis the time of year when family and friends gather together and run down memory lane. All the fabulous foods that go along with those memories make overeating almost inevitable. And, if your fitness program gets put on the back burner, you may exit the happy holiday season with more pounds and more stress than you want. This might be a good time to create a few new healthy holiday fitness traditions. For starters, don't deny yourself the enjoyment of eating your favorite holiday foods, just eat them in small doses. And put your organized, just-so-perfect workout routine on hold until after the holidays. In the meantime, find some fun ways to introduce a little exercise here and there, spreading small bursts of activity throughout the day; 10 minutes of continual activity counts as exercise. If you are like me, exercise boosts your energy level and makes you feel good so don't neglect it altogether. In fact, you might want to share it with others. After all, they say that people who play together, stay together. Here are some plans:

Fun Fitness When Family Visits

1. Wake up a little earlier than usual and get your energy fix with a morning run or walk before you become involved in daily activities.

2. Make exercise a family activity. Play charades; set up a scavenger hunt; throw a football around; set up mini contests for the kids like who can walk the fastest or who can do the most jumping jacks. The whole gang playing volleyball can be a lot of fun. We did this on our Thanksgiving visit to Pennsylvania and it was a big hit.

3. Include 10-15 minute walks around the neighborhood before family feasts. The first to arrive home receives recognition, maybe gets to sit at the head of the table.

4. Look for a turkey trot or a jingle bell rock race and invite family or friends to go with you.

5. Go on a walking tour of decorated homes.

6. Add a walk around the mall when shopping; don't take the closest parking space and go for steps instead of elevator or escalator.

When It's Party Time

1. Never go to a holiday party while you are hungry.

2. Eat a healthy snack before going to any holiday function that includes food. If you do arrive "starving," drink water before you start eating.

3. When eating buffet style, select three or four items you want, then move away from the table.

4. If you don't love it, don't eat it.

5. Limit creamy dips, drinks and desserts. Egg nog has 343 calories and 11 grams saturated fat per cup.

6. Spend more time chatting and enjoying friendships and less time chowing down.

End of Day Relaxation Yoga Stretches

1. Legs Up the Wall: Sitting facing a wall, buttocks about 6 inches from wall, lie with arms relaxed to the sides, palms facing upward. Extend legs up the wall. If this is too intense a hamstring stretch, move buttocks a little further away from wall; to add intensity, move closer. Relax with deep breaths and slower exhales.

2. Goddess Stretch: Lying on a mat, place soles of feet together, allowing knees to fall open, resting arms to the sides or stretch them overhead; inhale and exhale. Place a pillow or rolled up towel under each bent knee, if your back feels uncomfortable.

3. Full Body Stretch: Lying on floor, stretch legs out, pointing toes downward. Contract abdominals as you stretch arms overhead. Take a deep inhale, exhaling slowly as you release the stretch. Repeat stretch with feet flexed (toes pointing upward).

, Side Lunge / Touch Floor:

Targets calves, glutes, thighs and core. Standing, feet shoulder-width apart, contract abdominals, stepping out to left side in a lunge position; right leg remains in a stretched position. Without rounding back, bend forward from hips, reaching fingers toward floor, keeping knee over ankles. Pause, return to original position, alternating sides.

m Straight Legs Pull Over Crunch

Works upper back, abs and hips. Lying on back, extend legs at a 45- degree angle, holding arms over head (insert). Bring arms over chest, while lifting shoulders off mat. At the same time, raise legs to perpendicular to floor. Lower arms and legs to original position and repeat; do not allow legs to touch floor.

Cross-over Jumping Jacks .

A cardio exercise that works the majority of your muscles. Standing, feet hip-width apart, extend arms shoulder height. (insert) Cross arms in front of chest as you jump, crossing right foot in front of left foot. Continue alternating feet as you jump for 15-60 seconds.

m Ballet Workout

Targets legs, hips, buttocks. Standing tall next to a support, contract abdominals, toes pointed and with a feeling of control, lift and lower extended leg; no higher than hip level, knees slightly relaxed. Repeat 10-20 times, repeating on opposite leg. Flex foot (toes pointed upward) and repeat pattern. Tip: movement comes from hips, there should be no movement in upper body.

Bodyweight exercises are performed without weights or any props.

The key to holiday fitness is behaving more like Rudolph and less like Santa 12/18/12 [Last modified: Saturday, December 8, 2012 2:35pm]

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