Children's Hospital Colorado
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Just Ask Children's


17 Ways to Stay Active During the Holidays

Two boys play soccer in the snow. One boy is wearing a gray vest over a maroon sweatshirt and gray warmup pants. The other boy is wearing a dark gray winter jacket with neon yellow trim and jeans.

Winter holidays are inherently the time to relax, eat too much and relax some more. As cozy as this can be, it can leave you feeling lethargic and unhealthy.

Children's Colorado, through its Healthy Hospital initiative, encourages employees to relax in active ways. Michael Witten, MS, CSCS, exercise physiologist and director of the Children's Colorado Wellness Center, suggests some ways to get a metabolic boost and burn extra calories in the midst of holiday gluttony.

  1. Eat breakfast. This is the most important meal of the day. Try to eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up.
  2. Get your sleep. Try not to stay up or sleep in much later than usual.
  3. Stay awake during the day. Refrain from napping, especially after you've eaten a large meal.
  4. Participate in one of many 5Ks going on around Denver. Or, you can make up your own run for your family. Make a route in the neighborhood and hand out festive prizes for all participants.
  5. Add variety to your workout. During the holidays, you can have fun participating in seasonal activities such as snowshoeing, sledding, cross-country skiing or ice skating.
  6. Horse around with the kids. Playing tag, keep-away or something similar to burn extra calories. After watching football games, gather family and friends for touch football in the yard.
  7. Go on a scavenger hunt. Make at least 10 paper cutouts of a holiday themed images. Have a relative or friend hide them inside or outside. After dinner, everyone goes on a hunt. The first person to find the most cutouts in a certain amount of time wins!
  8. Try to exercise. It’s best to do so one to two hours after eating breakfast or an hour before eating a big holiday dinner.
  9. Have a dance party.
  10. Don't forget about the dog. Take him or her - along with any family or friends - on a walk after dinner.
  11. Get your hands dirty. Gather the family to rake leaves, clear the garden for winter, plant bulbs, build a planter box for next spring, paint the garage or stain the deck. You could also use this as a time to hang the holiday lights.
  12. Help clean up after dinner. Hand wash the dishes instead of using the dishwasher.
  13. Play a fun game after dinner. Laughing burns calories.
  14. Use holiday shopping as an opportunity to be active. Walk as much as possible. Park far from the store. Go to the mall early and walk around for 30 minutes before shopping. Walk from store to store instead of getting back in the car, if possible.
  15. Take a visiting family member to your gym or an exercise class.
  16. Take visitors on a walking or biking tour of your city/neighborhood.
  17. Play a physical game (such as soccer or Frisbee) or exercise to a DVD. These are fun ways to bond before consuming those extra calories.

Check out more tips for staying healthy during the holidays.

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