How to stay active when life gets in the way

Incorporating physical activity into a busy schedule can help maintain your health.

Many of us worry about getting off track for our health goals when life gets busy, whether that’s holidays, graduations or vacations. Certain times of the year are known for weight gain like between Thanksgiving and the New Year when people gain an average of one to two pounds. Instead of trying to implement a rigid diet and exercise plan, it is often better to focus on ways to maintain your current weight during a busy time of year by balancing the calories you eat with the calories you burn. Some easy ways to incorporate physical activity into a busy schedule include:

  • Plan ahead to train for a run or a walk during holidays. There are usually several options like a Turkey Trot, Resolution Run, Firecracker 5k, etc. Knowing you have committed to a race can curb big meal indulgences as well as increase physical activity levels.
  • If you are already participating in regular physical activity, plan workouts for earlier in the day to avoid missing them due to changes in plans or unexpected visitors.
  • Before beginning gift shopping or grocery shopping, take a few brisk laps around the store or mall for added steps.
  • Take adding steps to your day further by recruiting family members to complete a fitness challenge, logging time to see who can reach the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended 30 minutes of exercise per day, five times per week.
  • Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator at large stores or malls, if able.
  • Schedule something active to do while catching up with family and friends like a walk or group workout video before sedentary activities like meeting for coffee, going out to dinner or watching movies.
  • Promote and participate in active activities with kids at family gatherings. Pick-up ball games, hiking, swimming, frisbee, tennis, sledding, ice skating, building snow people, snowshoeing and skiing are all ways to increase activity levels while spending time with loved ones.

Before engaging in any physical activity, it is important to make sure you have been cleared for exercise by your doctor and to remember to warm-up prior to any physical activity to reduce the risk of injury. Michigan State University Extension offers a variety of resources on health, nutrition and staying healthy throughout the entire year. 

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