Editor’s Note: Stephanie Mansour, host of “Step It Up With Steph” on PBS, is a health and wellness journalist and a consultant and weight loss coach for women.
During the holidays, people are much more prone to sedentary behavior – like eating, sleeping or watching TV – to manage their stress, according to research. To counteract all that feasting and couch potato inactivity, many of us know that regular aerobic exercise, like running or going for a walk, is ultimately more effective at reducing stress.
What happens, though, if you’ve been displaced – stuck in your own small living quarters by yourself or watching over loved ones? The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday urged Americans not to travel for the upcoming holidays, so these scenarios could very well be likely this season as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to surge. How, then, can you fit in exercise, especially as the weather gets colder and snowier?
If you’re short on space, time and equipment, I’ve devised a full-body workout that you can do in any corner of any room.
The moves include body-weight exercise paired with cardio for a complete high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, workout. I chose a combination of lower-body strength training and upper-body exercises that don’t require any equipment. What’s more, to work your core, I’ve included standing abdominal exercises – so you don’t even need a mat.
As we ramp up to the holidays, fitting in this routine will leave you feeling more energized and give you a boost of feel-good hormones. These movements will improve your circulation, digestion and even help speed up your metabolism after eating all of your holiday favorites.
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This exercise loosens up the hips and gets your heart rate up.
Standing with your feet as wide as your hips, lift up the right knee toward your chest and then lower the leg. Next lift up the left knee toward your chest. Alternate these high-knee moves; you can keep this as a low-impact exercise by simply marching in place with your arms at your sides.
Or step it up into a high-impact workout by running in place with high knees. Pump the arms as you alternate high knees for 60 seconds.
Side crunch in a sumo squat
This exercise builds lower body strength in the glutes, hamstrings and quads while working the core. Specifically, you’ll be engaging the sides of the waist and working on the love handles.
Stand with your feet as wide as your hips and then turn your toes out. Place your hands behind your head. Bend the knees and sit back into a squat with the feet and knees turned out. Hold the squat, then reach the right elbow toward the right knee, come back to the center, then reach the left elbow toward the left knee.
While holding the squat, repeat this movement to the right and left 10 times.
Release the squat, and then repeat four more times for a total of five rounds.
This exercise works the quads and legs while improving mobility in the shoulder joint and strengthening the triceps and upper back.
Stand with the feet as wide as the shoulders with the toes pointing forward. Reach your arms straight up.
Then bend your knees and sit back into a squat as you swing your arms forward and down by your sides.
Keep your arms straight as you engage the upper back and backs of the arms as if you’re trying to press your palms into a wall behind you.
Swing the arms forward as you stand up into the starting position.
Repeat 10 times.
Ballet plié with arm raise
This exercise works the stabilizing muscles of the core as well as the inner thighs and shoulders.
Stand with your heels together and toes turned out. Reach your arms out to the side as high as your shoulders. Then bend your knees into a ballet plié as you keep your back straight. Reach your arms up above your head.
Then stand up and bring the arms back to the sides. Repeat this 20 times.
Get your heart rate up with this cardio move, which stretches out the quads while working the hamstrings and glutes.
Standing with your feet as wide as your hips, kick the right foot toward the right glute, then place the foot down.
Repeat with the left. Maintain a low-impact exercise by doing this step in place.
To step it up and make this a high-impact exercise, pick up the pace so you’re alternating quickly from one butt kick to the next. Pump your arms. Do this for 60 seconds.
Repeat this routine all the way through two times daily – or whenever you can sneak in a workout. Not only will you feel tighter, toned and stronger, but you’ll be well prepared to battle stress throughout the holiday season.