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Why 30 minutes of cardio is the best workout for a better night’s sleep, according to a pro


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Photo: Stocksy/Sergey Filimonov

The holidays might be the most wonderful time of the year, but they’re also the point where you’re most likely to get out of your regular fitness and eating routines. (Been there.) Something that can help ensure you enjoy all the fun and still show up on January 2 recharged and ready to kick ass in 2018, however, is a workout and nutrition plan.  

In a new four-part series for Well+Good, Tier X Coach at Equinox and fitness model Julie Wandzilak will be sharing intel on healthy habits to master now in order to strengthen your immunity, get better sleep, boost your metabolism, and tone your total body.

In the midst of the holiday season, sleep becomes an even more elusive creature than usual. Between the time spent shopping and the *major* upsurge of family togetherness, the eight (or so) hours you spend unconscious become all the more precious and important for your overall wellbeing.

In the ever-present battle between extra zzz’s and an extra workout, the resounding truth is that you need both.

According to Wandzilak, the best way to maximize the time you spend under the covers is that tried-and-true source of sweat—cardio. “A steady-state cardio session within a moderate heart rate zone will reap the benefits of improving your body’s way of burning fat efficiently, boosting your immune system function and setting your body up for a successful nights sleep,” she says.

For your cardio fix, Wandzilak recommends 30 minutes of high-intensity, low-impact exercise, such as consistent spinning or rowing. (Her fave pieces of equipment include the Airdyne, Ski Erg, or Rower machine.) “[It] provides an aerobic reverberation to your cardiovascular capacity, which can have a direct improvement on how your body responds to stress and recovers,” she explains.

Science has her back. A poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that light, moderate, and vigorous exercisers alike were more likely to report a good night’s sleep than non-exercisers. Bonus: The vigorous exercisers reported the highest quality of sleep overall. In the ever-present battle between extra zzz’s and an extra workout, the resounding truth is that you need bothEspecially during the holiday season.

Cardio junkies rejoice: Here’s how to bring some of its heart-pumping benefits on to your yoga mat, or try this J.Lo inspired routine from Tracy Anderson.

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