Get Fit While You Cook

The holiday season usually means lots of indulging and not a lot of exercise -- a recipe that usually translates into extra numbers on the scale. But fitting in fitness despite the lack of time and in the face of all those treats can be easier than you think. Fitness expert Sara Haley has some simple but effective no-excuse workout tips to help you squeeze in some exercise this season – in the kitchen.

Woman exercising while she cooks

Take advantage of any downtime to tone and burn calories, even as you cook. "If you're stuck in the kitchen, remember that if you've got a counter and a floor, there's always room for squats," Haley says. Check out her simple but effective kitchen exercises.

Nuke the plank

Quick tip: Keep an exercise or yoga mat in or close to the kitchen for easy access if you don't want to do your plank right on the kitchen floor.

The next time you pop some leftovers in the microwave or defrost some dinner meat, work in some core conditioning. While you wait for your food to heat up, hold a plank and work your midsection. Start with a 30-second plank while the timer counts down and gradually add time as you get stronger. "Now you can devour your dinner guilt-free," Haley says.

Stove squats

Cooking up your famous sweet potato casserole for holiday dinner? Strengthen your butt and legs by lowering into a squat as you put your dish in the oven. Every time you check in to make sure your dish isn't burning, hold another 30-second squat to burn calories as dinner cooks. Keep your chest lifted so you can see into the stove (and keep your lower back safe), and remember to put on your oven mitts.

Veggie speed break

Holiday food prep means a lot of slicing and dicing. Every time you finish one vegetable, get your heart rate up and give your hands a break. Put the knife down and step away from the counter. Split your legs so one foot is in front of the other and do a boxer shuffle (alternating legs as you jump so every time you land, the other foot is in front). At the same time, shake your hands out like you're trying to shake off water. Aim for 30 seconds to one minute. Now you can go back to chopping those veggies with refreshed hands and feet -- and a few extra calories burned.

Counter push-ups

Squeeze in a few pushups after you're done washing dishes to sculpt your chest and triceps. Begin by putting your hands on the counter (make sure the surface is dry so you don't slip) and walking your feet away from the counter. Lower yourself into a pushup, hold for two counts and then slowly push away. Do one set of 10 to 12 reps. The farther you step away from the counter the harder it's going to be. Do another set of pushups after you're done drying the dishes and another set while your food is cooking.

Blender leg-lift

You can squeeze in some sculpting for your butt and legs while you're making a healthy shake or smoothie. Hold the top of the blender with one hand, hold the counter with the other and balance on one leg with the opposite leg lifted to a 90-degree angle. Pulse your leg up and down as many times as you can (aim for at least 10). Keep your chest close to the counter so your back isn't picking up the slack. Ideally your butt stabilizes the movement (getting toned in the process) and your leg does the bulk of the work. Make sure to take the time to make a smoothie for your husband or kids as well, so you can get both legs in.

Lunge cleanup

Quick tip: If you have some extra time while your food is in the oven, Haley suggests running through these exercise as a circuit.

Messes and spills are inevitable with all the holiday cooking going on, but cleaning them up can be a good toning opportunity. If you've got a spill on the floor, get off your knees and work your legs instead by going into a lunge position. Hold until you're done wiping the mess away. Switch legs for a lunge on the other side.

More fitness tips & ideas

10 Stay-fit travel tips for the holidays
Holiday diet tips to keep you trim
The ultimate holiday shopper's workout

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