Think you’re too busy to exercise during the holidays? Think again. Exercising while gift-shopping is a genius way to squeeze in some calorie-burning, body-toning cardio. You’re welcome, mamis!
LEAVE YOUR CAR KEYS AT HOME
If you can’t walk to your shopping destinations, at least choose a parking spot far from the mall entrance. A brisk walk is a great way to sneak in some cardio. “It works your heart and also burns a lot of calories,” says Domingo Tanco, a New York-based personal trainer and bodybuilder. But don’t think just a five-minute stroll through the parking lot will do it. “The minimum that should be done is 30 minutes,” advises Tanco. “If pressed for time, 20.” So how about a brisk walk through the mall before you hit the first stores—or the pretzel vendor.
DO SOME LAPS
So you didn’t quite manage a 20-minute walk on your way to the mall? Or were you courting frostbite as you made your way to Target? Grab a shopping cart and continue your brisk stroll once you’re inside. Taking some time to walk the perimeter of the store will not only act as a workout, but will get you centered and calm as you prepare to find that perfect gift. Use the time to scope out the layout of the store and decide on a shopping plan.
TAKE THE STAIRS
Heading to the second floor, where those all-important toys and electronics are housed? Skipping the line at the elevator (and that sweaty, packed-like-sardines elevator ride) and taking the stairs is “a great cardio exercise which works the heart and burns calories,” says Tanco. “It also works most of your lower body from the waist down.” Faced with an escalator? Walk it instead of riding.
No, we don’t mean resisting those great sales and bargains at the local mall. We’re referring to resistance exercises, like the Heavyhands workout designed by Dr. Leonard Schwartz. While shopping, take along a canteen of water, which you can use to stay hydrated and utilize as a hand weight. Or bring two; one for each hand. “While moving at a steady pace, pump the hand weights,” is how the workout is described on LiveStrong. “The faster or higher you pump the hand weights, the harder the workout.”
IN-LINE CALF LIFTS
We’ve talked about weights…now let’s talking about the wait. Waiting in long lines has to be one of the least-fun aspects of holiday shopping. But this season you can make the most of that time by doing calf raises. Not only does this exercise help strengthen your calves, it helps your gams look great! You’ll need something to step on, like a sturdy box or hardcover book. Then stand on it, with “the front of one foot so that the rest of the foot hangs off the back,” says Tanco. “Lift the other leg in the air a bit so that it does not interfere with the exercise. Start on your toes at height of motion, then lower yourself down past parallel, feel the stretch in your calf muscle then back up to top on your toes. This can be done three sets times fifteen to twenty reps.” And these moves are subtle, so you can do them on line without causing a stir (although you might inspire some like-minded ladies!).
SHOPPING BAG SHOULDER SHRUGS
“Shrugs work the traps (trapezius) triangular muscles on either side of the upper back, extending from the shoulders to the neck,” explains Tanco. Substitute weights with your gift-loaded shopping bags, and “just shrug—which is moving your shoulders in an up-and-down movement as if you were asked a question you couldn’t answer,” says Tanco. (And this “I don’t know” gesture will come in handy when hubby asks you exactly how much those loaded shopping bags cost.)