The holiday season is so very busy. So very, very busy. With busy-ness comes the Santa bag full of excuses to shelf your physical activity regimen for the month and focus on all the other to-do's on your list. While you contemplate shelving your commitment to fitness, I urge you to reconsider. In fact, I beg you to reconsider.
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) recommends adults (aged 18-64) accumulate 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity per week. That works out to just over 20 minutes per day, or 30 minutes five days a week. For children aged 5-17, CSEP recommends 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day. Yes. Per. Day.
The somewhat horrifying news (that's the word I choose to use, you may want to choose something less dramatic)? Only 9 per cent of 5 to 17 year olds get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day. I'll let that sink in here for a second. 9 per cent.
So, here's my problem with shelving your fitness routine for the month. I firmly believe our children imitate what we do. They may not necessarily imitate or follow what we say, but what we consistently do. Our habits. Our children learn from our habits.
My main problem with you choosing to "let your fitness slide" in December is the simple fact that your kids are watching (just like Santa!). They learn that fitness isn't a priority and is something that can be put off for other more important tasks.
I challenge you to change that. I think you can fit in 20-30 minutes of physical activity daily. Even better, I think that you can find ways to include your kiddos so that they also benefit from you being active on a daily basis.
Here are a few tips and ideas to help fit in fitness this holiday season:
- Get it done in the morning before anyone else is awake. Set your alarm 30 minutes early and get it done. Do it. 30 minutes. That gives you 5 minutes to brush your teeth and get dressed, 20 minutes to workout and 5 minutes to bask in your awesomeness.
- Go for a walk with your kids to see the lights. Walk past the houses with lights to enjoy the festive scene and jog past the houses without lights. It helps get a little more intensity in and will have your kids laughing.
- Have a dance party. I'm a big fan. If you've ever read any of my other blogs you know that I fully endorse the dance party. So, put on the Christmas tunes, crank it up and get your silly on. Kids too. Do your best to embarrass them with your moves. It can be a sweaty, silly, laughter-filled 20 minutes.
- Have a not-so-secret word in your house that triggers an exercise. For example, one day our trigger word was "Santa". Any time we heard the word Santa we had to do 10 burpees. The kids thought it was hilarious when "Santa Claus is coming to town" came on the radio in the car. They counted all the "Santas" in the song and I had to do all my burpees once we got home. The best part, they joined in. It led to a game of tag in the house. We played for 30 minutes.
- Make an "Accountability Club" with your friends and choose a fun reward to do together in January if you all complete the challenge. Go for dinner, go to a movie or register for a class. Something fun! The sticky part is that everyone must complete the challenge or no reward for anyone.
Physical activity doesn't have to involve extensive, painstaking, time-sucking workouts. You can break your activity into 10 minute blocks. Whatever you can handle this time of year is what you should aim to do!
Choose to be active, Mamas. Be active every day in December. And make sure your kiddos are watching that, because oh Mamas... that is something amazing to watch.
This article was previously published on the Hot Mama Health & Fitness blog.