We don’t know about you, but we find holiday preparations to be hard. And if we’re not careful, we can get worn down by it all. Between the cooking and baking and shopping, the wrapping and tying and mailing, preparing for the holidays can nearly seem like a part-time job in itself. And if you were one of the 68 percent of Americans who hit the malls and stores last weekend for “Super Saturday,” you realize even more how strenuous the process can be.
If there’s a silver lining to be found in your yard-long to-do list, it is that all of your hustle and bustle can enhance your healthy lifestyle, and can even be considered exercise (which is a good thing, considering you’re likely missing a class or two at the studio).
So does shopping count as exercise? It can, if you do it right. If you leisurely stroll the shopping mall walkway, stopping often, milkshake-disguised-as-coffee-drink in hand, then no. However, there are some ways to get the most health-wise out of your shopping trip.
- Park really, really far away . . . If you think you’re in too big of a hurry, consider that it usually only takes an extra two or three minutes to walk from even the most remote parking spot. Super cold weather? Even better – jogging into the store is a great mini cardio-session.
- . . . and park at the other end of the mall. Depending on the size of your favorite mall, you can easily get in a mile or two by forcing yourself to walk the length of the whole thing.
- The more you buy, the more you burn. Carrying your purchases from store to store is a great workout, especially if you nonchalantly work in some bicep curls as you walk.
What about cooking and baking? Sure, enough. As long as you choose your recipes and methods wisely, you can nearly work up a sweat in the kitchen. Here’s how
- Nix the convenience. Pre-cut veggies? Pre-chopped nuts? Pre-rolled pie crust? The reason that most people favor these ready-to-use items is the very reason you should stick to foods in their whole form – chopping and cutting and rolling takes some muscle! Not only that, but buying foods in their whole form is easier on the wallet, too.
- Go for the scratch recipes. Beating whipping cream or eggs by hand is actually an impressive workout if you do it right. Ditto for rolling out tough cookie dough or hand-kneading bread or pizza dough. No wonder Grandma was so strong.
- Clean it up. After your masterpieces are done, crank up the tunes and have your own personal dance party while you scrub countertops and wash those heavy pans and dishes. Time will fly, and you’ll be breathless and happy. Plus, you’ll have homemade food and a clean kitchen to show for it.
Going postal. If your post office is close enough, consider walking there with your package to mail. Once there, as you wait in the snail-pace line, hold your package and do some calf-raises on either one foot or two feet. Do enough and you’ll definitely feel the burn – in a good way. Don’t care what the other line-dwellers think? Use your package as weight and lift it above your head with arms out straight in front of you for a shoulder workout. One more idea: get “comfy” with a long wall-sit, making sure to keep your knees at a 90-degree angle.
We jump at any chance to work health and exercise into our daily lives. With some creative thinking, your holiday preparations can be an opportunity to get a little physical activity in. Sure, these activities are no HIIT workout, but the chores have got to be done anyway, and it’s way better than no exercise at all. And when you have sore muscles the next day from hand-beating egg whites, you’ll thank us. Really.