Cardio exercise is a fantastic way to burn calories and shape the body, especially during the holiday party season. If the main goal is to drop a few sizes, it’s going to take more than the occasional walk or jog. Below are several tips for effective cardio during the holidays.

Make it More Intense

You may believe that just because you did 30 minutes on the treadmill or an hour on the stationary bike, that you got the best possible workout. However, results only come with vigorous effort. Instead of staring at the timer during workouts, it’s important to focus on pushing as hard as possible. Intensity and fat loss are directly correlated, and the harder you work, the better you will look and feel.

Eat Light Before a Workout

You might think that skipping meals before workouts will help you lose weight faster, but this is inaccurate. A healthy, light snack 90 minutes before a cardio session will provide sufficient fuel for a vigorous, effective workout. In addition to a snack, try to drink at least 16 ounces of water before exercise. Proper hydration leads to increased energy and accelerated fitness results.

Include a Strength Training Component

While it’s true that cardio offers a greater calorie burn in less time than strength training, the latter offers benefits that aren’t found in cardio. One of the best things about strength exercises is that they leave the metabolism high, even after the workout is over. By including a few strength training moves with the daily cardio workout, you will find it easier to stave off holiday weight gain.

Stick to an Eating Plan

For weight loss, the body must burn more calories than it takes in. Most people overestimate their calorie burn during exercise, and they think that they can eat a whole pizza just because they ran a mile or two. This doesn’t mean that every indulgence must be avoided, but you’ll have to enjoy holiday treats in moderation.

Choose Enjoyable Workouts

If you’re starting an exercise regimen, you should be realistic about your fitness abilities and goals. There are many options for cardio, and it’s important to choose one that’s enjoyable. Pushing too hard in the beginning can lead to early burnout and eventual discouragement. Keep goals realistic, take it easy at first, and remember to have fun!

Start Slow

Along with the previous tip, the best thing a new exerciser can do is to take it easy. Runners can start with shorter distances and bursts of activity, and gym-goers can start with less time on the treadmill or elliptical. It takes time for the body to adjust to a workout’s effects, and jumping in with both feet can leave you susceptible to injury.

Work Out at Home

The holidays are full of activity, and there always seems to be another gift to wrap or party to attend. In many cases, that leaves little time for a proper workout. However, if the focus is on cardio during the holidays, you don’t need much equipment or time. A home cardio workout can allow you to accomplish all of your goals in a comforting environment without the hassle of a trip to the gym.