Uta’s Fitness Guide for Your Holidays

December 21, 2018 By Uta Pippig
Colorado Winter Snow. © Uta Pippig

Today, I would like to share with you some fun and easy-to-do fitness tips for your holidays — how to focus on your training goals while at the same time enjoying relaxing days with family and friends. And, yes, have some chocolate too.

© Michael Reger/Take The Magic Step®

This holiday season most of us have a lot to prepare, which can be a little exhausting. Treasured Christmas traditions such as baking and decorating cookies, celebrating at Christmas parties, visiting with colleagues and friends — this seasonal Advent marathon can challenge us, especially if we work and support the family and also want to maintain our fitness program. So it is useful and helpful to occasionally sit back, reorganize and focus on the essentials. Maybe buy one present less, walk with friends or family and together inhale the Christmas scent like an aromatherapy. Instead of mulled wine sip a non-alcoholic ginger punch, let the hustle and bustle pass by…

Why not stick to our fitness traditions as a successful completion of ultimate well-being at the end of the year? Gym sessions, casual running, spinning, swimming, strength training, pilates, yoga… everything that appeals to us physically and that we practice throughout the year. Those of you who have the opportunity to enjoy winter sports on freshly snowed trails and downhill slopes can relish the fresh air and the mountains. You will feel refreshed and energized in the nippy air.

You may enjoy reading the following too: “Cross-Country Skiing: A Great Option for Winter Fun and Fitness“

It is understandable that we might feel stressed in the run-up to the holidays. Sometimes external circumstances are responsible, something is always happening. I advise you to stick to a well-calculated and well-organized fitness plan. It will actually help relieve the stress. The fitter you feel, the better you can handle all the demands of the holidays. So, stay flexible and the question is not if you train, but what you train.

Suggestions for Little Time and Late Holiday Evenings

Many training hours go into building up your base endurance… © Take The Magic Step®

Training advice to stay fit during the holidays:

  • 30 minutes speed progression run with 10 minutes each jogging, followed by 10 minutes medium pace, and 10 minutes fast. Or 10 minutes of warming-up, followed by 10 minutes fartlek (for example 7 by 1 minute tempo, 30 seconds easy), then 10 minutes cooldown.
  • Late in the evening enjoy a walk or jog with your running buddy on a small illuminated trail or loop. On your way from work stop at the stadium for some easy laps.
  • In the gym: 15 minutes aerobic (stationary bike, treadmill, rowing machine, elliptical), then 15 minutes intensive strength training, station change without breaks.
  • On the yoga mat: turn on music, intensive yoga for 30 minutes, stabilization and strength exercises, also push-ups, squats, abdominal muscle exercises. If you can’t think of anything else, then exercise everything one more time and have a large glass of a refreshing drink afterwards.
  • Fitness on the weekend: work out first thing in the morning before you attend to the other important things — or participate in one of the many well-organized running competitions.

Noshing, Snacking, and Chocolate Are Welcomed

Have some chocolate… © Betty Shepherd

Whatever happens, stay calm. Remember: There is still the certainty that you can maneuver cleverly through these days and when the holidays are in full swing you will have more free time and less sitting and overeating. You can pay more attention to your physical exercise and healthy diet. And maybe even envisage a goal to sign up for a New Year’s Eve or New Year’s run.

Something I cannot mention often enough: try to be more aware of staying healthy. Make sure you wear functional clothing, change your sweaty clothes after training, so that you won’t get chilly and put extra strain on the immune system. Immediately after your workout, try tea with honey, a smoothie or a hot chocolate. Delicious!

One more thought about enjoyment and happiness: A not inconsiderable part of holiday fitness is the treats themselves, because almost everything we bake or prepare with chocolate makes us happy. Studies prove this. Consuming chocolate improves mood, especially the dark variety because it contains healthy compounds which increase the release of endorphins. I always recommend one with at least 70 percent cocoa. This also guarantees that good nutrients are included. Chocolate is also a rich source of antioxidants and contains magnesium, which helps us to relax.

You may enjoy reading the following too: “Chocolate: Should I or Shouldn’t I?“

Even Christmas decoration can make you happier. The lights can act as a color therapy and increase mood and energy. Some researchers even claim that decorating for the holidays elevates dopamine levels, the hormone for well-being.

Let us take advantage of this “quiet time”, dear readers, to reflect a little on ourselves and reflect on how well we are doing. We can be grateful for our infrastructure, the achievements of our social systems, for democracy and lasting peace. Many countries cannot enjoy these everyday expectations that we often overlook. And maybe we can reduce the activities on social media a bit — leave the smartphone at home, run “Digital Detox” over the holidays, devote more attention to family and friends, and use Skype and Facetime to communicate with the loved ones who may be staying all over the world.

I wholeheartedly wish you happy holidays. Enjoy the time of lights and giving.

Festive Berlin and its Brandenburg Gate in December. © Uta Pippig





Adapted from my column “So kommen Sie fit und dennoch entspannt durch die Feiertage” in the “WELT” with permission (you can read the article in the German language and the entire online “WELT” with a small fee to the newspaper).

*Uta Pippig, 55, is one of the most successful female marathon runners of the ’90s, a three-time champion of the marathons in Boston and Berlin and winner of the NYC Marathon. She is currently a writer and public speaker for “Take The Magic Step®” and “Running to Freedom™” and is also a columnist for the German daily newspaper “DIE WELT” and online “WELT.”

Reading Suggestions:

  1. How to Prevent a Common Cold and Enjoy Your Winter Runs
  2. Make Your Wishes Come True: How to Set and Achieve Your Goals
  3. Periods of Training for Your Marathon Preparation and Distance Progression for Your Long Runs
  4. Yoga for the Right Balance

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