Holiday Health: The Best Gift
Our lives are always rushed, but during the holiday season they’re even more rushed that usual. We’re going on more errands, decorating the house, attending (or giving) parties and preparing for travel. Sometimes it’s wonderful, and sometimes it’s exhausting.
With so many time-consuming tasks, many people cut out their exercise routine or eliminate a few precious hours of sleep. But doing that isn’t going to help. You’ll end up feeling tired and gaining weight. Studies show that the average person gains between five and seven pounds during the holiday season and then struggles at the beginning of the New Year to lose that weight and “get back to normal”. And what if you don’t lose those five pounds. After 10 years of this cycle, you’ll be 50 pounds heavier!
One of the best ways to combat holiday fatigue and weight gain is to stay active. Here are some ideas to keep you moving:
Planning to hit the mall on Saturday morning for some shopping? Eat a healthy breakfast – whole-grain cereal, or oatmeal, or a piece of toast with peanut butter. Then get there an hour before the stores open and walk around the mall. Most malls open up for indoor walking a few hours before the stores open. Keep your jacket in the car and head inside wearing some comfortable clothes and a good pair of sneakers. Walk fast enough to get your heart rate up and stretch when you are done. Have a snack afterward -- a yogurt, a piece of fruit -- so you’re not sucked into the food court! (In fact, carrying a healthy emergency snack is a good idea no matter what you’re doing.)
Get up 30 minutes early to get your workout in before you go to work. This is a great time to work out with no distractions. If you go to a gym and can’t spare the time for the trip, you can exercise at home with video, use resistance bands or do pushups, squats and sit-ups.
Schedule three ten-minute workouts during the day. Get to work 10 minutes early and walk around the parking lot before you go to your desk. Go for a 10 minute walk or walk up and down the stairs before you eat your lunch. Walk around the parking lot again before you get into your car to go home and you have gotten 30 minutes of exercise for the day.
On a day where there really is no time exercise, start and end the day with some stretches so you don’t end up stiff and sore from not moving around. This would be a good time to practice some deep breathing as well. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds and out of your mouth for 4 seconds.
Don’t overextend yourself during the holidays. We try to make it a time to connect with family and friends-don’t lose sight of that. Maybe instead of trying to squeeze a bunch of social engagements into December, plan a few in January when things have calmed down
Don’t have time to send holiday cards this year? You can send an e-mail to wish everyone happy holidays and then send out New Year’s cards….or Valentine’s Day cards. People may have more time to appreciate reading a hand written note at a different time of the year.
The bottom line: Get enough sleep so you don’t get run down and try to keep to your eating and sleeping schedule as much as possible. Enjoy your holidays and the gift that lasts all year long: your health!
Sheila Clancy, MS, CHES, is a 20-year veteran of the corporate fitness industry and currently works for Health Fitness Corporation as a Fitness Center Director and Wellness Coordinator. Sheila was the 2006 Health Fitness President's Award recipient and the 2007 Health Fitness Site of the Year recipient. She has written articles for “Muscle and Fitness”, “HERS” and “Personal Fitness Professional."