WORKOUT PLAYLIST: There’s nothing quite like Christmas music to get you in the mood for the holiday season. When it comes to festive hits, the classics conjure thoughts of warm fires, hot cocoa, and family time – but they don’t always make the best workout music.
Some might even say that the holiday season isn’t time to workout. Yet, if your Thanksgivings’, Christmas’, and New Years’ are carb-heavy, now is the perfect time to exercise. After all, you want those wonderful presents under-the-tree to fit, rather than be reminders of end-of-year weight gains (I’m having flashbacks).
Personally, I start listening to Mariah Carey belting All I Want For Christmas sometime in early October and I don’t stop until my New Years’ Eve hangover wears off. But to really get my sweat on I need a playlist full of power-hooks and bass-drops and unfortunately The Holy and the Ivy, my favorite Georgian-era folk carol, just doesn’t cut it.
To correct this grave injustice we’ve cooked up a list of holiday season hits with enough punch to keep you on your toes and in perfect shape to eat, drink, and be merry this Christmas:
1. ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ – Mariah Carey
The must-have motivational song every holiday season workout playlist needs. Mariah Carey’s classic ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’.
Whether you’re hitting the elliptical or taking a chilly run through the park the soaring vocals of the O.G. pop diva will give you the boost you need.
2. ‘Run Run Rudolph’ – Chuck Berry
This is one of the best workout songs for anyone needing a little encouragement on those early morning runs – when Chuck Berry says run, you run.
Did you know that this 1958 12-bar blues classic, that’s similar to Berry’s classic ‘Johnny B. Goode‘ is also know as ‘Run Run Rudolph’ around the world?
3. ‘Last Christmas’ – Carly Rae Jepsen
The Call Me Maybe chanteuse took some time out from creating some of the most underrated pop albums of all time to put out this cover of Wham!’s Christmas classic.
Some might say the original is better, but Carly Raes breathy synth-pop style makes for a better workout song. Perfect if you want to get up and dance, or power through those morning reps.
4. ‘Sleigh Ride’ – The Ronettes
Another classic Christmas song for your workout playlist is the 1963 track ‘Sleigh Ride’ by The Ronettes. It’s upbeat, energetic, and guaranteed to get you moving.
If you’d prefer a more modern take, you could always listen to the 2020 cover version by Gwen Stefani.
5. ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ – Miley Cyrus
I’m not gonna lie to you. The original version of this song is a bop, but there’s something about Miley’s pop-rock vocals that make her version a legitimate jam ideal for working off those post-Thanksgiving pounds before you hit Christmas dinner.
6. ‘Step Into Christmas’ – Elton John
Mr. Rocket Man himself, Elton John delivers one of the best workout songs ever. Perfect for a festive playlist that needs a little more tempo to get those knees moving.
Originally released in 1973, this track went on to be the Christmas number one on the Billboard Charts.
7. ‘One More Sleep’ – Leona Lewis
When Leona wrote this song it was about anticipation. She’s counting down the days until she can be with her baby again, but she could just as well be counting down the miles until cool-down. Just one more sleep until it’s Christmas, just one more mile until you can hit the shower.
8. ‘Let It Go’ – Idina Menzel
If you’re spending any time around kids this holiday season you’re bound to hear this one anyway, but that’s not a bad thing. This breakaway hit from the Frozen soundtrack features Broadway star Idina Menzels incredible pipes hitting the kind of soaring high-notes you can’t ignore.
It is also an affirmational power ballad about taking control of your life and being your best self. Making it the perfect pump up song to give you a little bit of extra endurance.
9. ‘Underneath the Tree’ – Kelly Clarkson
Honestly, this whole album is flawless and it was hard to pick just one track – however ‘Underneath The Tree’ stood out with its booming vocals perfect for that little extra motivation.
Yet, anything the ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ singer performs, with its all-American power ballads works perfectly as motivational music this holiday season.
10. ‘Christmas in Harlem’ – Kanye West
Whether you’re a fan of Kanye West or not, this is a must-have on your workout playlist this Christmas.
Winter runners will appreciate Kanye’s reference to 40-degree wind-chill whether you’re spending the holidays in Harlem or Hartford.
11. ‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’ – Jackson 5
For those unwilling to listen to Michael Jackson, get yourself Justin Bieber’s version. It has everything you need for a great workout track.
However, we think the Jackson 5 version is simply better. It has more energy, retro-nostalgia, and a real Christmas feel, it can’t be topped when it comes to a holiday season workout playlist.
12. ‘Santa Tell Me’ – Ariana Grande
This 2014 release by Ariana Grande is perfect for those who want Christmas pop and sentiment on their playlist. The fact it has plenty of R&B influences and an upbeat tempo make it perfect for working out (well, it’ll get you up and dancing at least).
The track never made much of an impression on the Billboard Charts, peaking at number 42. It did reach the top 10 in several European countries and South Korea.
We’ve included two bonus workout playlist tracks below:
Bonus #1: ‘Linus and Lucy’ – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Is it a song if it doesn’t have lyrics? Well, we’ve added it as a bonus because this track from A Charlie Brown Christmas is great for a workout playlist.
It’s a peppy up-tempo number that’ll get you going and is perfect for your pre-excercise warm-up.
Bonus #2: ‘Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays’ – Nsync
I know my inner 90s kid is showing with this one but I cant end this list without imploring you to check out this holiday boyband classic.
Plenty of pop-groups have produced Christmas singles but this one has enough R&B hooks to get your body moving.