The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year, and it’s very easy to let your exercise routine lapse in the midst of all the planning, shopping, cooking, partying, and present-wrapping. And when it’s cold and dark outside, it can be even harder to motivate yourself to get up off the couch to work out. 

If you can’t put in your normal hours at the gym during the holidays (and happen to indulge in some extra cookies and eggnog), don’t stress! It’s okay to give yourself a bit of a break and to enjoy the holidays. Instead, think of how you can incorporate some exercise into your life while still doing all the holiday activities that you enjoy. Here are 5 fun and creative ways to get some movement in during the most wonderful time of the year.

  • Sign up for a fun holiday run. Fun holiday races can be a low-stakes way to get outside and get moving during the holiday season. Many of these “fun runs” call for donning your favorite ugly Christmas sweater or dressing up like Santa, so you can get into the spirit of the season while exercising! If you’ve never done one before, you can always start with a quick 5K. And there are plenty of races that go throughout January (starting on New Year’s Day) so it’s not too late to sign up.
  • Do a quick at-home workout with no equipment. Whether you’re traveling and find yourself at a hotel that doesn’t have an exercise center, or are staying in the guest room at your in-laws’ house, there are plenty of exercises you can do in a relatively small space that don’t require any equipment. Old-fashioned calisthenics, or working out using just your body weight, can be quite effective: think push-ups, squats, lunges, step-ups, jumping jacks, knee-highs, planks, and sit-ups or crunches. And it’s a great excuse to sneak away from your family for a breather!
  • Keep your walking or running shoes handy. If you’re traveling to a place where the weather is decent enough to go outside, be prepared and pack your walking or running shoes! You can always go for a quick jog or a brisk walk around the block. Getting outside, even in the cold, can also do wonders for your mental health. If you’re staying at a hotel or are in a building where it’s an option: skip the elevator and take the stairs.
  • Go shopping. No, seriously! As Carrie Bradshaw once wisely said: “Shopping is my cardio.” This can be a great way to get your steps in. If you live in a city or place where things are accessible by foot, then walk to your local shops. And yes, you have to carry all your purchases home: that added weight counts! Or if you must drive to a mall or a shopping center, park farther away so you’re forced to walk more, or take some extra laps around the mall and window shop. You can also do more of your holiday errands, like trips to the post office or grocery store, on foot.
  • Go ice skating or sledding. If you’re planning a holiday get-together, make it an active one. Ice skating is a fun, festive activity you can do with friends, family, or coworkers, and it’s great exercise. (Your calves will thank you.) And if you’ve got snow where you are, go sledding. Running back up the hill with your sled in tow will get your heart rate up in no time. Unlike skiing or snowboarding (which are also obviously great forms of exercise), ice skating and sledding are relatively low-cost activities that require very little practice or skill.

What other ways can you think of to incorporate exercise into your holiday routine?