The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Fitness Strategies for Holiday Success

Posted in
Move more

Monday, Dec 21, 2009

Are you afraid that you’ll gain weight this holiday season?  Or maybe you are worried about maintaining your fitness routine during the busy holidays? Worry no more. There are simple, but realistic ways to stay fit and trim during the holiday season. 

In a typical day 60-70% of all calories burned are for basic body needs including sleeping and awakening. Then 10% of the calories you use are for the digestion of food and 15-30% are used during physical activity.1 To maintain your current weight “calories eaten must equal calories used”.  The good news is you have control over 15-30% of your daily calories based on increasing or decreasing physical activity.  The key during the holidays is how to work activity (calorie burning) into a busy schedule in order to counteract the “extra calories” you typically eat or drink. Every 10 minutes of activity counts toward fitness and important calorie burning. You do not have to have a half hour or more to get fitness benefits from activity as was explored in the blog “Take 10.”  It all counts and can help you stay on track with weight control and fitness goals.

The following are suggestions for simple 10 minute activities.  • Put on a step counter and challenge yourself to increase your steps every day • Walk the dog at a quick pace once, or even twice a day • Consider walking to do an errand at a nearby store • Take a fitness lap by walking in the mall and window shop • Toss the football or Frisbee • Do push ups against the kitchen counter and do some body squats • Follow along with a cable television exercise program • Get the basketball out and play “horse” and just have fun • Golfers, skip the cart rental and walk the course • Go sledding, snow shoe walking, or skiing in your winter wonder land • Ice skate at the mall, local hockey rink, or outdoors • Bicycle with any family member who gets a new bike for the holidays

What else can you think of?

Finally, consider entering the entire family in a holiday fun walk/run. Many fun runs include a 1K option as well as the 5K-15 K distances.  This could burn an additional 200-1500 calories depending on the distance covered, weight, fitness level and speed of walking or running.

To see how many calories you would burn based on your current weight, ages, and gender, check out the “How many calories do I really burn?” portion of  the Tools section of It will show you how many calories you burn for a wide variety of activities.  Another great resource for counting calories burned can be accessed here.

Both will help you stay on track and motivate you to stay fit during the holidays.

1 Pi-Sunyer, F. Overnutrition and undernutrition as modifiers of metabolic processes in disease states. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Aug, 72 :533S-7S, 2000.