How to Fit in Exercise During the Holidays

‘Tis the most wonderful…and hectic…time of the year! The holidays are crazy. Even as introverts in a pandemic, my family’s schedules are getting packed and to-do lists are getting long. Often the toughest time to fit in exercise for me during the holidays is when we travel up north to visit my family. My kids (until recently) didn’t sleep well in new places….and tired kids lead to clingy ones. Can you relate? Plus, we have long travel days, plans, and it almost always seems like someone gets sick. 

All this increased stress increases the importance for stress relief. Hence, it is paramount that we squeeze in exercise during the holidays to stay sane, healthy, and feel good and productive. 

But, we got this! And to help, I have a few ideas to come to the rescue in case you are in a bind. These are ideas that have helped me and other mother runners worldwide. Put them in your back pocket for a crazy day. 

7 Tips to fit in exercise during the holidays

Go early. 

This is the most popular solution for fitting in exercise during the holidays for mother runners. Wake up before anyone else is up and get moving. You don’t have to worry about missing out on family time or being needed, because everyone is still asleep! Plus, you get time to yourself–chaos-free! (And, you get to see the holiday lights in all their glory!)

If you’re in a place where you don’t feel comfortable running, work out at home. There are tons of apps you can use. My favorite is the Peloton app that has all sorts of awesome workouts for runners. Use this as an opportunity to fit in that strength work you’ve always meant to do.

Plus, waking up early to exercise is the gift that keeps on giving. It is a great habit to start so that you can conquer those 2021 new year’s resolutions and goals. Just bear in mind that this means staying disciplined in going to bed at a decent hour and skipping some Netflix time.

find time to run during the holidays
Making a plan for your exercise is the best way to ensure it gets done.

Speak up. 

Let your family know ahead of time that it’s important to you that they support you in your goals to stay healthy, happy, and…sane. Consistency is important for runners and even just 30 minutes is all you need to maintain your fitness. Make it a non-negotiable. One mother runner is not above bribery, sharing that since she’s the cook, if she doesn’t run, they don’t eat. 

Make an appointment for yourself to exercise and don’t let other things stand in its way. Treat this time as if it is as important as a doctor’s appointment or work meeting. Put it on the calendar, and have it stay there.

Run streak.

If it’s challenging for you to not let competing priorities overtake your goal of exercising, then commit to a run streak. Aim to run at least one mile a day for the rest of the year. This will keep your motivation and momentum going, and you won’t get stuck in the rut of thinking, “well, I’ve already missed so many days, so what’s the point?” Plus, there is a good chance that one mile will turn into more. 

Related: How to get your running motivation back

Andi & Zach Ripley of don Santa hats on their run together.
Andi & Zach Ripley of don Santa hats on their run together.

Make it a family affair.

Some of my favorite memories are going for walks or runs with my family, including my siblings. I don’t worry about pace or distance. I focus on the fact that I am moving and connecting with them. I stand firm in my theory that there’s no better way to connect with someone than to run with them. I swear it brings people closer together than wine.

You can also grab the kids and go for a family adventure around the neighborhood or to a park, or to see holiday decorations. Ending someplace fun is always a great incentive to get the kids excited. One mother runner shares that she and her family don Santa hats to make the run extra festive. 

Related: 12 genius tricks for running with a stroller

Break it up.

looking at holiday lights can be a treat for you and your kids
Looking at holiday lights (or wearing them…) can be a treat for you and your kids, and a great motivator to get out the door!

Sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day so you need to break it up. If you only have 20 minutes for a run in the morning, go! Ditch the all or nothing attitude. If you can squeeze in another 20 in the afternoon or evening, go for it. I often multi-task, playing with kids while I strength train. I break it up into 10-minute chunks here and there, and before you know, I have a solid full-body workout in. 

Related: 9 habits of healthy mother runners

Ask for help.

Chances are you will be around family for the holidays. Use those extra hands to your advantage. My sister, our husbands, and I will often take turns who is watching the kids so we can all get our workouts in. They go to Orange Theory in the morning. We run when they get home. There is no shame in asking for help and it benefits everyone to have a healthier, happier you! 

Related: 15 obstacles to exercise facing mother runners 

Give yourself grace. 

Hey, some days it’s just not possible to fit in exercise. That’s okay! It is just one day. It is better to not stress and embrace it as a much-needed rest day that helps you return rejuvenated and extra motivated.  

Happy running and happy holidays!

PS-I’d love to help you reach your running goals whether it be to run your first 5k or run competitively! Email me at with questions or check out my Coaching Services page!

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