The holidays can inevitably become a time to laze. Between the cold weather, an excellent TV lineup, and a few days’ respites from work it can be easy, and usually welcome, to slip into some poor habits. And while taking a break from it all can usually be an ok way to unwind for a week or two, this year is a bit different. That’s because it hasn’t just been for two weeks. Most of our daily routines have been interrupted by lockdowns and remote work. Many of those habits could have been productive for us as well, from potentially active commutes to simply not having a choice but to leave your couch each day. Unfortunately, in 2020, holiday sedentarism may have been worse than usual.
Sure, taking a few days to completely relax is not the end of the world. The issue is when this sedentary holiday lifestyle continues past the holidays or when it is added on top of the last 9 months where the only walking, we have had to do is from bed to desk to kitchen. Sedentary lifestyles are something that negatively impacts people all over the world. A study by the WHO has shown that 23% of adults are physically inactive which can lead to health problems like mental health issues, heart disease, and weight irregularities. Remember, adults should be getting around 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. So how to hold off the temptation to sit around and let the holidays sleepily roll by? We explore some of the best ways to beat the holiday sedentarism that may have snuck in over Christmas and how to make sure that your 2021 is a productively active one.
Ease Into Resolutions
New Year’s resolutions can certainly be flawed. It is said that some 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail, that can’t be a good sign. Part of the problem seems to be that everyone waits to get theirs started at the beginning of January. That’s an issue on multiple fronts. Let’s face it, most January 1sts are for nursing yourself back from a late-night, then boom January 2nd comes and people are back to a routine they have already broken for the last two weeks. So, the first week of the year really becomes about relearning your old routine and makes forming a new one difficult. Commit for the next few days to begin to incorporate activity into your schedule to help build successful habits that will carry over now that our jobs have started back up. Try easing in by tackling one resolution or habit first before adding a whole list of them.
Be Mindful of Your Habits
When you are trying to stay out of bad habits or even create better ones, it is important to hold yourself accountable. While having others help you with your goal—which we will talk about below—it is key to find ways to motivate yourself. One of the best ways of doing this is to identify what activities are preventing you from being more active. Keeping track of how you spend your time can be a shocking revelation, especially during the holidays. If you record the amount of time you spend, watching TV for example, and find out that you spent 4 hours that day watching TV, you may be motivated to change. The same goes for social media, if you spend 2 hours scrolling per day, simply seeing that number is an inspiration to change things up. To help change these practices, find an amount of time that you would feel comfortable spending on these less active habits then stick to that. Some apps like Instagram even have a setting where you can be sent a notification when you have reached your limit. Use this freed up time to schedule yourself an active alternative. When first developing new habits it can help to do them at the same time every day. If you are trying to beat the laziness adopted during the recent holidays, schedule a walk every day during your lunch hour, this habit should soon enough become like clockwork.
Incorporate Activity Into Routine Tasks
An object at rest stays at rest. And that is exactly why simple daily activities can be so dangerous. Anything that takes us out of our active flow can cause us to lose our active momentum. If someone calls you, for example, suddenly you’re on the couch talking to them on the phone and when you hang up, odds are you may stay on the couch staring at your phone screen for longer than normal. Instead, walk around while talking. Even just taking the call from a standing position can help ward off the sedentary habits formed during and after the holidays. There are also even ways, and products, that can make sitting a less sedentary activity. Sitting on an exercise ball while working or reading will help engage your body, especially the muscles in your core. Meanwhile, The ActiveSeat has products designed exactly for this purpose. The Acharya wobbling office task chair and the desk pedal chair can help not only change sedentary habits but can even help with attention for a number of people.
Recruit Someone to Hold You Accountable
For many of us, accomplishing a goal is a lot easier when you have someone pushing you or cheering for you, or working towards the same goal. Combating the negative effects of holiday sedentarism is no different. While sharing your reasonings for wanting to form better habits can require someone to be vulnerable with another person it will help in the long run. Perhaps look to someone who has an active lifestyle worth admiring. Tell them about your plans to break the holiday lull in activity and ask if they will check in on your progress from time to time. Another alternative would be to ask a friend, who you know also fell into some bad holiday habits, to be your partner in your New Years’ journey to being more active. Having someone to share the frustrations and joys of forming new habits will be a great motivator.
Use the Tools At Your Disposal
Avoiding sitting around for too long during the holidays does not mean you have to buy brand new workout equipment to transform your home into an at-home gym palace. Household items that everyone surely has lying around can be incorporated into a more active day. Things like towels, chairs, even your bed can all be useful tools for increasing your at-home activity. Still, have boxes from all those Amazon holiday deliveries? Make yourself a standing desk out of them for when work starts back up in the New Year. The same thing can be done with a pile of books.
Let the Internet Be Your Friend
Many may be eager to point fingers and blame the Internet for an increase in sedentarism.
However, when used properly, the Internet can in fact be one of the best tools for fighting a sedentary lifestyle. Now more than ever there are a ton of instructional videos that can present an array of at-home workouts for the most hardcore fitness fanatics to those just trying to avoid a lackadaisical holiday hangover. There are also a number of online fitness groups and communities that can help keep you on track and inspired. These work even better when you incorporate wearable tech. Data from these devices can be shared on apps like Strava and make for an easy way to set up a challenge between your and your fitness friend. Try seeing who gets the most steps this month.
With the Christmas holiday over and New Year’s behind us, now is the time to prepare yourself to break whatever holiday habits may have formed in the last couple of weeks. While 2020 has been a stressor for just about everyone that does not mean the holiday trend of watching movies all day needs to become habitual. Use the easy resources available to everyone and watch how quickly your mood improves from living a less sedentary lifestyle.