Calorie Burning Holiday Exercise Games for Festive Fun

It’s vacation time. That means that you’re likely to be away from your normal workout environment. You may not have access to a gym or the equipment in your garage. You’re probably also going to be following a different daily routine - one that involves taking in more calories than you’re burning!

While the holidays are a good time to ease back on your usual program, it doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising altogether. Staying active through December and January will help you to avoid Xmas weight gain and make it easier to slip back into your routine when the holidays are over.

Why not take the opportunity to mix things up over the holidays with a range of exercise games to infuse variety and fun into your workout routine?

In this article, we provide four exercise games that are great holiday calorie burners.

What You’ll Need:

  • A balloon
  • Tape or chalk to mark a boundary

Number of Participants: 3+

How To Play:

  • Assign a number between 1 and the total number of players to each player. Everyone should form a huge circle outside the "border," which can be clearly delineated with tape, chalk, or any other marking material.
  • Here’s how the game would go with four players: #1, #2, #3, and #4.
  • The number of the second person, let's say #2, should be called out by the first person, #1, after hitting the balloon in the air.
  • Then, #2 must sprint and strike the balloon before it touches the ground (using any part of their body, including their hand, elbow, or foot), calling out either #3 or #4 in the process.
  • Player #2 scores a point if he is unable to stop the balloon from falling to the ground.
  • The game should then resume with player #2 calling out a number. The player with the fewest points at the end of five minutes wins!
  • There are a couple of ways you can increase the intensity level of the game. You can have the players assuming the plank or squat hold position as they wait for the number to be called. You can also replace the balloon with a Swiss ball - this one’s real challenge, believe me!

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 baskets
  • 8-10 tennis balls
  • A play area about the size of a basketball court

Number of Participants: 6+

How To Play:

  1. Divide the playing area in half and form two teams. Spread the balls over the playing field along the dividing line and place one basket at the back of each team's section.
  2. When the game starts, have each player sprint to retrieve one ball at a time and drop it into his or her team's hoop. Once every ball has been put into a basket, players start running to the opposing team's basket, taking one ball out at a time, and then running to put that ball back into their own hoop.
  3. The side with the most balls in their basket at the end of the given time wins! One team is deemed the winner if they manage to collect every ball before the time runs out.

Here’s a plan you should try during the holidays:

What You’ll Need:

  • Bingo cards
  • Pencils
  • A pair of scissors
  • Resistance band set
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Number of Players: 2+

How To Play:

  1. Create a 5 x 5 master bingo card, filling in exercises rather than numbers. Here is a sample you may wish to copy …
Biceps curls Pressing fast feet Forward lunges Front raises Lateral lunges
Reverse flyes Side oblique lunges Upright rows Squats Bicycle crunches
Triceps Extensions Monster walks Front squats Good mornings Shoulder press
Bird dog Chest flyes Oblique planks Calf raises Lateral raises
Push ups Leg raises Burpees Jumping jacks Russian twists
  1. Print as many blank bingo cards as there are players along with two master cards.
  2. To create a deck, cut up one version of the master card into squares and shuffle them.
  3. Give all the other players blank cards.
  4. Players should complete their own cards by writing one exercise in whichever square they want after reading the exercises from the master card.
  5. For each of the exercises, decide on the number of repetitions. Start with 5–10 reps and increase according to the fitness level of the participants.
  6. Flip the first card and read it out.
  7. Have each player finish the exercise on the selected card and cross it off on their Bingo card.
  8. Keep turning over cards and calling them out.
  9. The winner is the first to get one line in either direction.

What You’ll Need:

  • A deck of UNO cards
  • A set of resistance bands
  • A kettlebell

Number of Participants: 6+

How To Play:

  1. Seven cards are dealt to each player. Place the empty deck of cards at a distance that will demand a sprint or short run to retrieve a card. The top card from the unused deck should be placed face up.
  2. Select a starting player and play style (clockwise or counterclockwise – this will change as reverse cards are played).
  3. Only cards of the same color or number can be placed down when it is your turn to play a card. The WILD card, which allows you to alter the color being played, is the only exception. You must draw cards from the unplayed card stack until you have a playable card if you don't already have any.
  4. There is a corresponding exercise for each played card (except reverse and skip). Before the next card is played, each participant must do the exercise. The exercise is chosen based on the card's color, and the number on the card specifies the number of reps. The zero card, which equals ten reps, is the only exception. The first player to discard all of his or her cards is declared the winner.
  • Red: Resistance Band Lunges
  • Blue: Burpees
  • Yellow: Resistance Band Squats
  • Green: Kettlebell Swings

Make use of these four fun, yet physically challenging, games to burn some calories as you get active with your family and friends. Just don’t let your competitive juices get too carried away!

Remember the holidays are all about chilling out and enjoying the break. So, use these games to maintain a level of activity as you unwind and recuperate from the year’s training and get yourself mentally prepared for the new year.

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Steve Theunissen is a freelance writer living in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is a former gym owner and personal trainer and is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness and fat loss. Steve also writes history books with a focus on the history of warfare. He is married and has two daughters.
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