From dread to shredded? Try this holiday shopping workout

Does the thought of shopping at malls during the holiday season make you want to scream “Bah, humbug!”? You’re not alone.

According to a Consumer Reports survey, 68 % of people ranked “crowds and long lines” first on the list of what they dreaded most this time of year. Can you guess what tied for second? Gaining weight and going into debt, which were fear factors for 37% of the survey respondents.As an alternative to the mall madness, you should consider patronizing your locally owned independent retailers. This easy solution for avoiding crowds has the added benefit of keeping more of your dollars in your community and the local economy. But if you do find yourself amidst throngs of harried, impatient shoppers, there’s a way to make the experience slightly less stressful and frustrating. Plus, tone your muscles and burn off a few calories. How? Obviously, just buying stuff won’t make you healthier. But with a little planning and effort, you can turn that dreaded trip to the mall into your own personal workout.

Take a hike. While everyone else is driving around to get the closest parking spot, you won’t have to play the waiting game if you park at the outer perimeter of the mall. The extra walking will do you good, especially when you return to your car carrying those muscle-building shopping bags. And walk briskly while you’re shopping!

Use the stairs. Who needs escalators or elevators? Whenever you have this option, climbing a flight or two of stairs can be a strenuous, cardiovascular activity.

Curl and shrug. Whether you’re browsing the aisles or waiting in line, perform a few arm curls with the shopping bags. Do 20 reps for lighter bags and 15 for heavier bags. You can also do shrugs, which will help tone your shoulders and chest.

Squat, don’t bow. When you need to grab an item on a lower shelf, bend from your knees, not your waist. If you don’t feel too self-conscious, repeat this several times to strengthen your abdomen, calves, thighs and gluteus muscles.

Reach and stretch. For items high on shelves, reach from head to toe and hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Repeat this five times. (If people are looking at you strangely, you can act as if you can’t decide whether you want to buy the product). This little exercise will strengthen your legs, back, and arms and improve your balance.

Stand on one leg. Stuck waiting in a long line? Make it a challenge by standing tall on one leg with your standing knee slightly bent, your navel pulled in and your shoulders pulled back. This too will improve your balance and core muscles while strengthening and stabilizing your feet and ankles.

One more health tip from Don’t shop on an empty stomach. Eating a balanced meal before shopping will keep your head clear and give you the energy you’ll need for your shopping workout. And you’ll be able to “power shop” without having to refuel on all those unhealthy temptations at the food court!

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