Start the holidays with a healthy mind and body.
The holidays are the perfect time to get together with family, indulge in a good meal and stay cozy inside, but these comforts can often combine to equal a decline in your physical activity. It can be hard to schedule gym time when you’re traveling or entertaining guests, but you can still fit in some light physical activity at home before the day gets too busy.
Before diving into presents on Christmas morning, limber up with these 10 dynamic stretches that the whole family will enjoy:
1. Lunge and twist – quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, abdominals, glutes
Place your hands on your waist and lunge forward with one foot. Hold that position and twist your torso in the direction of the forward leg, feeling the muscles fire in your obliques, glutes and lower body. Return to a standing position and repeat with the opposite foot forward. Repeat for 5 reps per side.
2. Standing mountain climbers – quadriceps, hamstrings, abdominals, coordination
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your head up and shoulders back as you lift your left knee. At the same time, crunch forward while squeezing your abdominals and touch your left elbow to your raised knee. Repeat on the opposite side, alternating until you’ve completed five crunches on each side.
3. Cross-chest flys – arms, shoulders, upper back
Stand with your shoulders, back and hips in a neutral position. Raise your arms to your sides with palms forward, then swing and cross them in front of your chest, allowing your elbows to bend. Swing your arms back as far as possible, opening your chest. Repeat this movement, crossing and uncrossing your arms, 10 times.
4. Torso twists with arms out at sides – abdominals, back
Raise your arms to your sides and hold them in a T position. Without breaking the T, twist your torso to one side until you feel the stretch in your abdominals. Hold the stretch for a few seconds, then twist to the other side. Repeat 10 times.
5. Windmills – abdominals, hips
Set your feet in a wide V-stance and raise your arms to your sides in a T position. Without swinging your arms or hunching your back, bend forward and twist to reach your left hand to your right foot. Rise and touch your right hand to your left foot. Repeat 10 times.
6. Knees to chest – hamstrings, back, neck
Find a clear space to lie with your back flat on the floor. Draw your knees up to your chest and wrap your arms beneath your thighs, gently squeezing your legs to your chest. Bend your head toward your knees. If you’re on an exercise mat, carpet or other padded surface, carefully rock side to side, allowing your back to relax. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
7. Kettlebell swings sans kettlebell – hips, shoulders, back
Position yourself in a wide V-stance, raise your arms in front of your chest, and intertwine your fingers. Sink into a semi-squat and swing your arms down and between your legs, as though you were swinging a kettlebell. Rise to a standing position and raise your arms toward the ceiling, then repeat the kettlebell swing movement 10 times.
8. Side bends – abdominals, back
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and back straight. Without hunching forward or twisting your shoulders, bend sideways at the waist, reaching down the side of your leg with one hand. Hold the stretch for five seconds, then rise and repeat on the opposite side. Repeat five times on each side.
9. Straight-leg kicks – quadriceps, hamstrings, abdominals
Stand with your back and legs straight. Without hunching forward, contract your abdominals and raise one leg in front of your body. Repeat on the opposite side, alternating until you’ve performed 10 kicks.
10. Snow angels – shoulders, arms
Lie flat on your back with your arms against your sides. One arm at a time, arc your arm up and over your head, then all the way around your body, tracing a circle along the floor with your fingertips. Repeat with each arm five times.
After performing these stretches, your whole family will be energized and ready for a day of holiday fun. Happy Holidays!