'Time Poor', 'Christmas Overwhelm' and 'Festively Fatigued': Five easy exercise plans for Christmas | HerCanberra

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‘Time Poor’, ‘Christmas Overwhelm’ and ‘Festively Fatigued’: Five easy exercise plans for Christmas

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Quick, easy and cheap—this is how your holiday workouts should be.

The festive season is tough for many people who struggle with managing their mental health—prevention is better than treatment.

Exercise can make a big difference in mood and needs to be a fundamental part of the festive season, especially for those who have mental health struggles. Did you know, even one workout a week is known to have great benefit to your mental health?

We are all different—we have different bodies, different time availabilities, different values and different motives and goals. One in five Australian adults will experience mental illness in any year and any form of exercise is better than none.

Below, I have five different programs—do you fit into one of them?

Time Poor

Ok, you have a busy festive season schedule, but you’re still wanting to look after your body and mind. Got it. Try this 15-minute ralking (run/walk) session.

It won’t make you sweat too much, just enough to give you energy. Time required: 15 minutes.

  • 5 minute walk warm-up,
  • 50m jog + 5 push-ups (on knees) x 5
  • 20m jog + 2 conscious breaths while holding a squat x 5
  • 3 minute walk warm down

I recommend setting short-term realistic goals for exercising each week; be organised, and plan to exercise at specific times of the day that fit in with your lifestyle and write your plan down.

Christmas Overwhelm

We’ve all been there. Everything gets to be too much—you would do anything to have a relaxed calm mind. Sounds like you need to go find yourself some nature, away from traffic, disruptions, chaos and people.

Time required: 1-hour minimum. Things to think about while you’re out there clearing your head:

  • Relax your jaw.
  • Relax your fingers.
  • When the unnecessary/unproductive/negative thoughts start creeping back into your head, acknowledge it, and let it go again. Repeat.
  • Breathe in for 2 seconds, out for 4 seconds.
  • Concentrate on the sound of your footsteps.
  • Focus on the wildlife noises around you.
  • Relax your fingers again.
  • Relax your jaw again. Repeat.

Did you know, as little as one hour of exercise each week can help to prevent depression? (Source: Black Dog Institute).

Remember that it can take time for the benefits of exercise to occur. Most exercise studies have shown a significant reduction in depression after eight weeks or more—don’t give up!

Festively Fatigued

Exercise increases your energy levels and releases endorphins. We need to start with small, regular bouts of exertion and I’d suggest booking in with your doctor first to see if there’s anything nasty underlying (eg: low iron, B12, chronic fatigue, lupus, heart disease or other chronic diseases and other systemic conditions).

Choose low-impact aerobic activities such as swimming, hydrotherapy, deep water running, riding a stationary bike to get your heart rate elevated without damaging your body—make sure you have an allied health professional to help with your journey and progress your program.

If you have the all-clear from your doctor, start out with a 10-15 minute walk for the first couple of weeks (five days a week), then work your way up to a longer duration (add two minutes each week).

Busy Business Brain

I understand, you are time poor and need to fill your day with positive, powerful, fulfilling, meaningful, motivating information to inspire you. Sounds like you need a good podcast, while you’ve on the move!

These are my favourites to exercise to:

  • Bringing out the Best in People – Audrey Daniels
  • Who – Geoff Smart and Randy Street
  • Traction – Get a Grip on Your Business
  • Ownership Thinking – Brad Hams
  • Simple Numbers – Greg Crabtree

I’d recommend wearing a heart rate monitor, keeping yourself accountable and tracking your heart rate (about 120 beats per minute); potentially add two minute surges every five minutes (and get your heart rate up to 140-150 beats per minute!).

Walking Towards Your Goals

If you are motivated to lose weight and motivated to start walking, then you’re miles in front of most people. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

I’d recommend starting flat, on the grass to offload your joints, and get some new comfortable supportive walking shoes before you start (The Athletes Foot is a great start).

I’d also recommend going to your local pool, and walking in the shallow end twice a week, instead of loading your joints up every day.

Here’s an example program:

  • Monday: 15 minutes flat grass walk and stretch.
  • Tuesday: Walk in the pool for 25 minutes.
  • Wednesday: 20 minutes flat grass walk and stretch.
  • Thursday: Deep Water Running at your local pool (totally offload your joints, and get your cardiovascular system pumping!).
  • Friday: Day off.
  • Saturday: 25 mins flat grass walk, different direction to during the week.
  • Sunday: Pool or land-based, depending on how your joints are feeling

Do you fit into one of these holiday programs?

It can be helpful to work with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (or allied health professional) who understands the complexity of the challenges faced with mental health conditions, and has the skills and knowledge to help you manage your condition and any barriers you may come up against.

Furthermore, if you’re interested, here are the current physical activity guidelines:

Adults aged 18 – 64

  • Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build-up to the recommended amount.
  • Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.
  • Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week.
  • Do muscle-strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.

Older Adults 65+

  • Older people should do some form of physical activity, no matter what their age, weight, health problems or abilities.
  • Older people should be active every day in as many ways as possible, doing a range of physical activities that incorporate fitness, strength, balance and flexibility.
  • Older people should accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days.
  • Older people who have stopped physical activity, or who are starting a new physical activity, should start at a level that is easily manageable and gradually build up the recommended amount, type and frequency of activity.


The information provided by Kirra Rankin is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. HerCanberra advises our community to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if they’re seeking specific medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.

If you are struggling with your mental health, please reach out to your GP. Here are some other links for your education:


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