Plan ahead of the holidays

Marjie Gilliam is an International Sports Sciences Master certified personal trainer and fitness consultant. Write to her in care of the Dayton Daily News, call her at (937) 878-9018 or send email to

With shorter days, colder temperatures and the hectic holiday season approaching, it can be difficult for many people to keep up with a fitness routine. Jamie Costello, Fitness Director at the Pritikin Longevity Center, offers some advice on how to stay on track no matter what the season.

Why are fitness goals so important? Having a goal holds you accountable to a specific set of actions, Costello states. “For our clients, we use the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) principle for outlining goals. By following these guidelines, your goals will provide a path to success.”

  • Where going outside may not be a safe option for exercise during winter months, its imperative to have a plan B as to when and where to work out. Rather than hit or miss exercise sessions, think about your overall consistency. Adhering to daily healthy lifestyle habits matters greatly when it comes to achieving and maintaining fitness goals long-term.
  • Have an at-home option for exercise. Numerous apps, videos and books are available for those looking for instruction or motivation for exercising at home. One online option that Costello recommends is "The workouts are free and safe for the general population".
  • If time is limited, opt for a shorter version of your normal routine. "Time and intensity can be manipulated so that you can get an effective workout in as little as 20 minutes. The key is to exercise at a higher effort level after a good warm-up." Two ways to get more out of your workout in less time is to do Circuit Training and/or Interval Training. Circuit training involves moving from one exercise to the next without resting between sets, so that one muscle group has a chance to rest while another is working. Interval training involves working out at varying paces/speeds, such as one minute at a warm up pace followed by one minute at a brisk walking pace and one minute of light jogging or running, cycling through each interval throughout the session.
  • Many people use New Year's as a time to make resolutions, and losing weight or starting an exercise program tops the list. These goals are usually the result of under-exercising and overeating during the holidays, illustrating how important it is to execute your winter plan before the holiday season. By getting in front of the holiday season, you will be less likely put on extra pounds. For those just starting out, strength training 2 to 3 times weekly, along with cardiovascular exercise 30 minutes most days of the week is a realistic goal. If weight loss is a priority, increase the duration or speed of your chosen cardio activity as you get stronger. As with any exercise routine, check with your physician to make sure you don't have any limitations.

About the Author