And invite full-family participation. “Almost everyone can do something, even if it is just a push-up against the wall, if someone shows them how and keeps saying, ‘Wow, good job, Grandma,’” she said.
Importantly, you will not miss out on most health or fitness benefits by lowering your exercise targets to a few minutes per day while hanging out with the family, said Dr. Robert Sallis, a co-director of the sports medicine program at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fontana, Calif., and the chairman of the Exercise Is Medicine initiative at the American College of Sports Medicine. “The science is pretty clear that doing anything — even if it is just taking the stairs or walking around the mall with your cousins — counts,” he said. “It is all physical activity and adds up and goes toward improving health.”
If you crave solo exercise, “go early,” said Katie Arnold, an ultrarunner and the author of the 2019 memoir “Running Home.”
“Most normal people like to linger in the morning over coffee,” she pointed out, so energetic early risers can slip out for a long walk or bike ride, and, with luck, your relatives “won’t even notice you’ve been gone.”
You also can visit a local gym in the early hours. “Most Y.M.C.A.s open early and offer day passes,” Mr. Stulberg said.
You can find other local gym facilities that allow visitors to buy day or weekly passes with the TrainAway app.
Exercise may also help lessen the inevitable strains of holiday togetherness, Dr. Sallis said. “There is nothing like exercise for reducing anxiety and stress,” he said. “It’s the best medicine we know of. Even if it’s just a little, even it’s just a walk around the block, it could make a huge difference in how well people cope with the holidays.”