How To Stay Active Over The Holidays
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Reframe How You See Exercise
“Instead of being something you ‘should’ do to burn calories, think of exercise as time for you. Whether it’s a 20-minute class on your Peloton or going for a quick walk, see exercise as a moment to get some headspace while also looking after your body. As the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, it’s normal to feel our energy slump. If we add in endless parties, drinking and overeating, it’s easy to see how we can lose the urge to do any exercise at all. Research shows that regular exercise improves immune function, restores our vitality, helps us to sleep and supports digestion. Instead of just physical movement, see exercise as a way to support your health from all angles.” – Brenda Ward, yoga teacher and Ayurvedic practitioner
Schedule Time In The Diary
“It may sound obvious, but the most effective way to ensure you get workouts in over Christmas is to plan your week. Time-blocking is extremely effective – divide your day into blocks of time, each dedicated to accomplishing a specific task. This means that your workout can be completed with limited distractions. If you have 20 minutes, a bodyweight circuit done at home will tick all the boxes when it comes to building muscle and strength and burning body fat. Squats, push-ups on your knees and dead bugs are all simple and effective. If you have, say, 40 minutes, head to the gym for a similar bodyweight session. If you know you’ll have three or four opportunities to exercise during the week, split your sessions into upper or lower-body-focused workouts, but if you have fewer opportunities, focus on full-body sessions instead. If you’re not a member of a gym, a kettlebell is a great investment for challenging and versatile home workouts.” – Lily Chapman, performance coach and nutritionist at P3RFORM
Start The Day With Some Sun Salutations
“Sun salutations are a series of poses that uncurl and stretch the body, open the hips and leave you feeling renewed and strong. They are also a great way to release tension from the body and mind and support the digestive system. Any yoga platform will have a basic sun salutation video you can follow – try YouTube – but take it at your own pace. If you’re doing it in the morning and want to kickstart energy levels, you can try doing it a little faster to break a light sweat and leave you feeling energised. Either way, done slowly or quickly, a sun salutation will leave you feeling ready to tackle the day.” – Libby Stevenson, certified menopause yoga teacher
Get Creative With Walking
“Don’t discount the value of a good walk to meet your daily movement goals. Walking is accessible, doesn’t require any special equipment and you can speed it up or slow it down to suit. Being outside in the fresh air will also encourage you to breathe more fully and connect with nature, which can alleviate stress that can build up at this time of year. The effect of walking on our lymphatic system also can’t be underestimated. This important system supports our immune function by removing toxins from the body but relies on movement and deep breathing to circulate properly. Maximise your walk by listening to your favourite music and keeping up the pace, or incorporating bursts of faster walking or hill walking.” – Brenda
Use A Resistance Band To Stretch
“Stretching is often overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. We want our body to be strong, yet supple, for good performance, mobility and a reduced risk of injury. This is what makes Pilates so effective – it builds strength and lengthens muscles simultaneously. If you have ten minutes, grab a long resistance band, lie on the floor and place it around the arch of one foot and lengthen the leg to the ceiling. Bend the other leg and put the foot on the floor. As you maintain a stable pelvis, gently pull down on the band to stretch out the hamstring. Breathe while you hold the stretch for two to five minutes. A looped resistance band, meanwhile, is a great, versatile piece of kit that will quickly fire up the lower body – try side steps and squats.” – Korin Nolan, founder of Dynamic Pilates TV
Spend Five Minutes With A Yoga Block
“The yoga block is an unsung hero. It provides fantastic support for the back, head and hips and offers a great way to help us release into a pose and relax more deeply. If you haven’t had time to exercise, grab a yoga block while you are watching TV in the evening. Place the block along your spine and lie back to release tension in the upper back, or pop it at the bottom of your spine while you come into a bridge pose for a few minutes – this is a great way to open the body and move you into a relaxed and restorative yet dynamic state.” – Kat Ferrants, founder of Movement for Modern Life
Experiment With Supersets
“If you’re short on time, consider incorporating supersets into a 15- or 20-minute workout. This would mean doing two exercises back-to-back with no rest, or non-stop sets using lighter dumbbells without a rest in between. You can also try increasing the time under tension (i.e., slowing down each repetition) to engage more muscle fibres. If dumbbells feel too intimidating, your bodyweight can be just as effective when it comes to increasing strength and endurance.” – Lily
Unwind With Yin Yoga
“At this time of the year, what is most needed is an opportunity to step away from the hustle and bustle and to feel grounded, soothed and calm. The restorative poses in yin yoga are perfect for this, especially if you struggle to unwind or fall asleep. Yin yoga poses require no movement and quickly reset the nervous system, making you feel calm and relaxed. Even if you’ve never done yoga before, yin yoga is extremely accessible – all you have to do is get comfortable in the pose and breathe. The pose will then take over and do the work for you. Child’s pose is a great example of a restorative pose, as is popping your legs up against the wall. These poses will stretch the lower back, where we hold most of our tension, quieten the mind and lower blood pressure.” – Libby
Stretch In Bed
“If you’re travelling over Christmas, chances are your hips will become tight from sitting, whether it’s long car journeys or sitting on a train. If you are travelling, taking ten minutes to stretch out your hips in the evening can bring a profound sense of relief and wellbeing, and it can even be done in bed. Most pyjamas are stretchy and comfortable enough to do yoga in, and yoga doesn’t always need to be done with a yoga mat. Even lying in bed doing a butterfly pose on your back is a simple way to stretch out the body and aid relaxation.” – Libby
“If all else fails and you don’t have time for any movement, at the very least give your body the chance to reset by using your breath. The Christmas holidays can be frantic – buying presents, wrapping, sorting the food, decorations and travel plans. Breathing techniques such as alternate nostril breathing can bring a sense of calm and balance into the emotional overload that is Christmas and bring the body back into balance.” – Libby
For more information and workout inspiration visit LibbyStevensonWellbeing.com, BrendaYoga.co.uk, DynamicPilatesTV.com, P3RFORM.com and MovementForModernLife.com. SheerLuxe readers can get 20% off a three-month subscription at Dynamic Pilates TV using code SHEERLUXE30.
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