Strapped for time? These simple activities can help you get in extra movement and stay fit to close out the year.

Jessica Ball, M.S., R.D.
November 18, 2020
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Credit: Getty Images/Marko Geber

The holidays are known as a time for celebrating, eating, drinking and spending time with loved ones. Unfortunately, that doesn't always leave much time to keep up with a healthy lifestyle. Even if your plans have shifted to staying at home instead of traveling, the bustle of the holiday season can make it hard to stay active. Getting in extra movement doesn't have to derail your plans, and little bouts of movement throughout the day can add up. We have used data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Harvard Medical School to pull together some surprising ways that you can easily burn an extra 100 calories.

1. Take a short walk

Even if the weather is chilly, bundle up and take a stroll around the neighborhood. Walking at a moderate pace for just 20 minutes burns 100 calories. It can be as simple as a walk around where you live or a trip to some local trails for a change of scenery. This is a great activity to get the whole family out of the house in a safe way this holiday season.

2. Clean up the house

Who says you can only burn calories from strict exercise? Cleaning, such as vacuuming, sweeping or washing the windows, can burn over 100 calories in 30 minutes. Talk about two birds with one stone. If you realize you have been sitting for a long time and need a quick break, doing some cleaning can help you get ahead on chores while getting some movement in.

3. Shovel snow

For those of us who live in cold weather climates, it is probably no surprise that shoveling snow is a calorie burner. Just 15 minutes of clearing the sidewalk or driveway burns over 100 calories. As an added bonus, this gives you a great excuse to briefly get outside throughout the day. Spending time outdoors has been shown to give a mental health boost, in the short and long term.

4. Squat and crunch

Thirty minutes of bodyweight exercises adds up to nearly 100 calories burned. If you don't have time to do it consecutively, adding it up throughout the day works too. Try doing 5 minutes of exercises like squats, push ups, step ups, crunches or lunges throughout the day to build strength and burn extra calories without breaking a sweat. Setting timers on your phone or computer can help remind you to get up and move.

5. Stretch your body

After a long day of sitting, few things feel better than taking some time to stretch. Stretching or doing yoga for 30 minutes can add up to burn close to 100 calories. Whether you devote 30 minutes of your day to a flow, or you stretch for five minutes several times throughout the day, you can feel fit and enjoy the health benefits of yoga and stretching.

6. Grocery shop

Think of this as walking with an added bonus, since you are pushing a cart. That's right, your grocery shopping trip burns about 105 calories per 30 minutes that you shop. You might do a little extra grocery shopping over the holiday season, so the added movement is something you can feel good about.

7. Cook up something

Believe it or not, cooking actually burns calories. Roughly 100 calories in 40 minutes, to be precise. All of the time fluttering around the kitchen can help add up to greater calorie burn over the course of the day. However, it is still important to eat mindfully and listen to hunger and fullness cues. Cooking may burn some calories, but overindulging afterwards won't be helpful in maintaining a healthy lifestyle over the holiday season.

Bottom line

The holiday season should be about celebrating what you are grateful for and those you love, even if you can't be together in person this year. Instead of stressing about the break from your typical exercise routine, focus on easy things you can do to get movement into your day. Even if you don't have time for a structured workout, little things can add up over the course of the day. From stretching to vacuuming to shoveling snow, these activities can help you burn an extra 100 calories easily this holiday season.