Avoiding the Christmas creep – at home exercises to get you through the holidays

The summer holidays: where exercise routines fall by the wayside, shoes are optional and second serves (or second bottles) become the norm. They’re great fun. 

Even if you’re trying to maintain some semblance of health over the summer break the combination of school holidays, Christmas shopping, relatives visiting and the countless festive events in the calendar make it almost impossible. 

Even the fittest of us can’t escape the Christmas creep – it’s well documented that most of us put on at least half a kilo over the summer holidays. It’s easy to see how – we tend to go easy on ourselves this time of year; opting for a sleep in rather than a morning run, or a wine with lunch rather than water. 

Not to mention your usual support crew – us here at Sycamore Health included – go on holidays themselves and you can’t access your regular exercise classes for a few weeks. So long routine! 

Our exercise physiologists are looking forward to a break but want you to be able to continue with your routine over the summer– so we’ve compiled a list of at home exercises you can do, wherever you are, whoever you’ve got staying with you and no matter how many glasses of champagne you had at the work Christmas function. 

Stronger and longer: Strength and Conditioning 

Stronger and longer is how your muscles will feel after you do some of our strength and conditioning (S&C) exercises at home this Christmas. 

There’s heaps of reasons you should do regular S&C exercises; 

  • increase your bone density – healthy bones are essential for your ongoing wellbeing.
  • improve your metabolism – particularly important at this time of year.
  • enhance your overall physical wellbeing –  S&C exercises improve your balance, protect you from injury and can reduce the signs of chronic conditions such as arthritis. 

We’re all about strength and conditioning around here and we wrote about how important it is in a recent blog post – you should check it out

It’s generally recommended that you do strength training exercises at least twice a week and we agree. 

Here’s some at home exercises to get you started: 

  • Squats: 
    • Stand with your feet flat on the ground, facing forward. 
    • Tighten your core: squeeze your bum and tummy muscles 
    • Lower your bum as if you are sitting in a chair, keep your knees over your ankles 
    • Repeat 
  • Planks: 
    • Start on all fours – shoulders over wrists and hips over knees
    • Tuck your toes and lift your knees off the ground until you are in a plank position
    • Press your fingers into the ground for support
    • Tighten your core: squeeze your bum, thighs and tummy muscles 
    • Hold (lower your knees for less intensity)
  • Sit ups: 
    • You can use a yoga mat, or simply lie on the floor 
    • Bend your knees and bring your feet flat on the ground
    • Bring your hands to the opposite shoulder 
    • Tighten your core: squeeze your tummy muscles up and in 
    • Lift your shoulders towards your knees, hold, lie back down
    • Repeat 

Run like the wind: Cardio 

Or walk – you’ll be surprised at how easily you can fit this in, and how effortlessly incidental walking happens. While you’re on holidays, go for a walk along the beach or around the neighborhood after dinner, or spend some time walking in nature. 

Another great way to get your cardio in at home is to go for a swim. If you’re lucky enough to be at a place with a pool, or staying by the ocean take advantage and do some laps each morning. 

It’s recommended that you are active most days of the week for 30 minutes. Do this and you’ll find:

  • Your blood pressure is lower
  • You maintain or lose weight 
  • You sleep better 
  • Your mind is sharper
  • Your mood improves 

To stretch or not to stretch? 

For such an innocuous activity, stretching gets a lot of bad press (including from us). Should we do it? When do we do it? What does it actually help with? 

Sure stretching might be overrated, but let’s be honest, it feels quite nice and there are definitely benefits – it may not make you a marathon runner overnight but it will ensure range of motion in your joints and so lower the chance of straining them. 

How to exercises for at home stretching: 

  • Neck stretches: Christmas stress? Feeling tense in your neck and shoulders? This one’s for you. 
    • Roll your shoulders back and down a few times so they feel relaxed
    • Gently bring your left ear to your left shoulder.
    • To increase the stretch take your left hand to the top of your head and guide your head down. Go only as far as feels good. 
    • Repeat on the other side. 
  • Twisting: while stretching doesn’t necessarily improve our posture, our spine is designed to move in all directions (as well as to be long and straight). Twisting allows our spine to move in ways it doesn’t usually:  
    • Stand tall and raise your arms up above your head 
    • Turn your torso to your right, at the same time bringing your left hand to your outer right hip, and your right hand behind your back. Take this as far as feels good. 
    • Repeat on the other side. 

Christmas creep is real but if you follow our tips for how to exercise at home you’ll be back to your healthy habits with ease by January.

And if your new year’s resolution is to create an exercise routine you can stick to, we’d love to help you achieve that. Book an appointment with an exercise physiologist at one of our two locations (Sippy Downs or Morayfield) and learn how they can help you. We’ll see you soon. 

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