The "Season of Indulgence" Has Arrived: Key to Staying Healthy is Remaining Active
- Take time for yourself. Although spending time with friends and family is essential, it’s also important to carve out some relaxation time (at least five minutes) for yourself. Try practicing deep breathing when you feel stressed out.
- Don’t set unrealistic exercise goals. Aim to exercise 30 minutes a day instead of an hour; it’s okay to divide it up into eight to 10 minute intervals throughout the day. You’ll be much more likely to achieve such a reasonable goal and avoid unnecessary guilt.
- Enlist the support of a friend or family member. Walking and talking with a friend can be a great way to socialize, burn extra calories and reduce your stress level. Working out with a partner has been consistently shown to help individuals stick with their workout.
- Create new, more active traditions. Instead of throwing a dessert or cocktail party, try ice-skating or Nordic walking with ski poles as an alternate holiday event. Play powder puff football or build a snowman.
- Don’t try to stick to an overly restrictive diet this holiday season. If you enjoy your favorite foods in small portions, you’ll feel more satisfied. Trying to stay away from certain foods may leave you feeling deprived, which may cause you to eat more than you intended to.
- Drink plenty of water. Although the cold weather may make you less inclined to grab a glass of water, it is just as important in the winter as it is during the summer. Water helps counter the dehydrating effects of travel or drinking alcoholic beverages, and it may also help satiate your appetite since thirst is often mistaken for hunger.
- Spread out meals. Don’t feel like you have to eat everything at once. Try eating dinner early and then taking a walk before sitting down for dessert.
- Avoid or limit liquid calories. Many popular holiday beverages contain stimulants (e.g. alcohol or caffeine) that will only cause you potentially more grief in the end by adding to your feelings of stress and increase your blood sugar levels causing you to eat more. Try having a glass of sparkling water after a glass of wine or cup of eggnog.
- Don’t aim for perfection, and enjoy the imperfections. There is no such thing as the perfect party or the perfect decorations or the perfect way to spend the holidays. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by placing unrealistic demands on yourself.
- Make your workouts a priority. Try to exercise first thing in the morning before other demands sidetrack you. Individuals with an early-morning exercise routine tend to be more consistent when pressed for time.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America’s Authority on Fitness, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. As the nation’s “workout watchdog,” ACE sponsors university-based exercise science research and testing that targets fitness products and trends. ACE sets standards for fitness professionals and is the world’s largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE Web site at www.acefitness.org.
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