To stay fit during holidays bend, don't break routine: experts

Holiday and fitness

Sticking to a fitness routine is not always easy, but holiday feasting, drinking and family can make it even harder.

'Tis the season, experts say, to bend your fitness routine so it does not break.

"Consider the holidays a time to maintain fitness, not a time to set new goals or be ambitious," said fitness expert Shirley Archer, author of "Fitness 9 to 5" and "Weight Training for Dummies."

The average American gains one pound (.45 kilograms) each year during the holiday season, Archer said, but it's a fate you can avoid by being active when time allows.

"Research tells us that you can get an effective strength training routine in as little as 15 minutes," she said. "This is not ideal to build strength over time, but is sufficient to keep what you have during the holidays."

A bare-bones cardio workout can be accomplished by fitting short, 10-minute bouts of activity into your holiday plans.

Danielle Hopkins, group fitness manager and instructor at an Equinox fitness center in New York City, tells her concerned clients to try to sweat at least 20 minutes a day.

"I stress the importance of keeping to your routine. The main thing is putting it on your calendar," said Hopkins, who said drinking too much makes it harder to make it to the gym.

"Always make room. It's pretty easy to do. If you're traveling, bring your running shoes, or a jump rope, or look for a gym."

And rest assured that one night of over-indulgence won't derail a year of work.

"Everyone's diet has a bit of wiggle room," she said. "I think it's good to imbibe a little, but be strategic about what you'll allow. Have a little bit."

Constantly avoiding holiday temptation is tiring and in the end unsustainable, according to Gregory Chertok, a sports psychologist with the American College of Sports Medicine.

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