It’s the holiday season and our schedules are busy; parties, shopping, baking, and a multitude of other tasks. You are concerned about gaining weight and maintaining your exercise routine during this hectic time. First of all let me remind you of the real role of exercise in your life. Being healthy is important so that you can live a first-rate life. Good health makes our lives better, but preoccupation with exercise and dieting can spoil the good times.
This is not the time of year to try and change things. Stick with your regular exercise routine and if you are thinking of making changes wait until the holidays are past. If you eat right and exercise the rest of the year then a few indulgences won’t destroy your fitness foundation. If you are still apprehensive about the holiday season, then try some of these holiday exercise tips.
•Keep fitness a priority. You’re busy but instead of trying to squeeze in time for exercise, why don’t you try taking something else out of your schedule. Building exercise into your regular routine and keeping it there will help you stay on track all year. Put your exercise date on your calendar and be sure to show up.
•Be flexible. Look ahead and if there is a conflict with your time to exercise and a holiday event then be creative. Try rearranging, or get up earlier for this day. The important thing is keep to your exercise commitment.
•Home workouts. Home workouts can be a good substitute to the gym or class. Make a home workout tool box. Keep several workouts you are familiar with handy; make a workout card deck. You do this by writing an exercise, the muscle group it works, and the instructions on an index card. Then draw a few cards from the deck and use them as your workout.
•Allow yourself some days off. You may already have days off scheduled into your workout routine. But for the next few weeks add an extra day off. Here is what really matters: how many calories will you consume and how many calories will you expend through physical activity, during the holiday season.
•Don’t worry about losing weight. Right now your goal is to avoid gaining weight.
•Wear a pedometer. All that running around can build up to quite a few steps. The standard used is 10,000 steps equals five miles. This is a good way to measure your movement. Add a few resistance exercises and stretches and you have your workout.
•Keep your immune system strong. Stress can cause your immune system to weaken. Exercise relives stress and strengthens the immune system by increasing the circulation of blood flow throughout the body. The next time you find yourself thinking you don’t have time to workout remember you don’t have time to be sick either.
•Try some of the quieter practices for fitness. These practices can relieve stress as well as keep you in shape. Examples include yoga, Pilates, and tai chi.
•The little things: park far away from the Mall doors and walk. Take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators both of which will add steps to your pedometer. Walk at lunch either indoors or out. Just a 15 minute walk will boost your energy mentally and physically.
•Calories Burned. Here are some everyday activities and the calories burned
o Grocery shopping 273 calories per hour
o Dusting your home 80 calories per 30 minutes
o General housework 246 calories per hour
o Indoor playing with animals 176 calories per hour
o Riding a snow blower 211 calories per hour
o Shoveling snow by hand 422 calories per hour
o Wrapping gifts 48 calories per 30 minutes
o Baking 176 calories per hour
o Clearing dishes from the table 78 calories per 30 minutes
Be resourceful and I’m sure you can come up with even more great ideas. Although the holiday season is a busy time it is also a special time to spend with family and friends. Build your base of health and fitness throughout the entire year and enjoy your holidays.
Happy Holidays. Be healthy, be happy.
David Katz, MD; Director of Yale Prevention Research Center
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