Q. I always fall off my exercise schedule during the holidays. How can I keep active without a daily routine? -- Donna Brown, Almonte, Ont.
A. Physiotherapist Maureen Hagan replies:
There are lots of great ways to keep active and have fun during the holidays.
• Make new year's resolutions early this year and start working toward your fitness goals on Dec. 1. Write them on sticky notes as if you've already achieved them: "I walk at least 20 minutes every day and it feels great!" Post them where you'll see them often (try the fridge or your computer).
• Plan a social activity around fitness. Go cross-country skiing, take a winter walk or go skating with friends.
• Go tobogganing with your kids.
• If you're visiting family or friends in another city, try out a fitness club in their area. (The first visit is often free.)
• Commit to a brisk 10- or 15-minute walk before or after dinner, no matter where you eat it.
• On any holiday outing, park farther away from your destination and walk.
• Buy a pedometer as an early Christmas gift to yourself. Use it to see how many steps you take in a day and aim to increase that number. Your goal should be 10,000 steps a day for good health.
• When you're feeling "peopled-out," go to the gym by yourself. This is one guarantee of some time alone during the sometimes chaotic holidays.
Maureen Hagan is director of education at Can-Fit-Pro, an organization of Canadian fitness professionals, and vice-president of operations for Good Life Fitness and VitaVie clubs in London, Ont.