By Caroline Shannon Karasik
Let's face it: Working out over winter break is not exactly the first thought you had in mind when you breathed a sigh of relief that finals were over.
Yet staying in shape in the midst of family get-togethers and quality couch time doesn't have to require a huge time commitment. In fact, there are a few simple steps you can take for staying in shape during winter break and prepping your body for the semester ahead.
Check out these tips and break a sweat before indulging in that second slice of grandma's apple pie.
1. Do some wall sits.
No matter how many of your cousins and great aunts are crammed into your childhood bedroom, the great feature of this exercise from Wello trainers is that it requires little space to accomplish. In fact, all you need is a wall and you'll be feeling the burn in your thighs in no time.
Stand with your back against a wall. Next, walk your feet out and slide down until your knees are at a 90 degree angle, so it looks like you're sitting in a chair. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat two to three times.
2. Leap like a frog.
These squat jumps –– another one from Wello trainers –– will not only work your legs, but it will also give you a solid dose of cardio that's sure to combat the sleep coma that follows after a holiday feast.
Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Next, sit back like you are about to sit on a low bench and keep your chest lifted. Then jump up as high as you can with your arms above your head, and then sit back down into a squat position. To get your heart pumping and muscles burning, try three sets with 10 repetitions. Just pretend you are a frog!
3. Make core work a breeze.
Wello trainers rely on these Windmill Planks for a quick, all-around exercise that will tone your arms, abs, butt and legs.
Begin in a plank position by placing your hands on the ground, and keeping your knees or feet on the ground as well. Next, lift your right arm and raise it towards the ceiling, so your torso rotates to the right. Then, go back into a raised plank — pause for two seconds — and repeat with your left hand. Remember to keep your abs engaged and have a straight line across your body (don't let your hips raise up too high or sag too low). Shoot for two sets of 8-10 repetitions.
In addition to staying on top of your exercise regimen, fitness expert Robbie Darby, founder of RAD Experience, said winter break is the perfect time "to rest, refuel and restart your fitness program." "Now that you have more time you can figure out what fitness program works for you," she said, recommending these take-action steps for planning a healthy 2013:
- Shop Around: Many gyms and exercise programs offer free and/or discounted programs this time of the year. With a new year around the corner many people’s resolutions ring to the tune of: “I want to lose weight" or “I want to get in shape." So, take advantage and shop around. Not only will you save money, but you will get a chance to sample many different types of workouts.
- Sweat and Smile: One of the top reasons people have a hard time sticking to a new fitness regimen is they get bored and/or don’t enjoy it. So, as you prepare to enter the next term vow to only do sweaty things that make you smile. Fitness that’s fun not only strengthens your body, but your mind and self-esteem as well!
- Schedule It: Now that you have shopped around and have found activities that you enjoy, the last and most important step is to schedule it. As you register for your classes, notice where you consistently have breaks. Put working out in a few of those slots and enjoy the extra physical and mental credit of your new course load.
- Incorporate simple exercises, like wall sits and push-ups, into your fitness routine for quick, at-home fitness sessions.
- Start planning a healthy 2013 by researching gyms and fitness classes that are located close to school.
- Make fitness a priority by penciling it in when you have down time between classes.
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