Lake Norman Publications

Exercising during holiday season combats calories, improves mental health

The cookies are baked and that glass of milk has been set out for Santa but you find yourself low on energy and need to combat those holiday blues. The kids will be up soon, wrapping paper will be flying and another family dinner will be served. You think to yourself, how in the world am I ever going to be able to keep up? No need to stress! Here are some great tips for combating the holiday calories and havoc simply by preparing with a little exercise.

The World Health Organization (2022) suggests that 1 in 4 adults do not get enough physical activity and over 80 percent of adolescents are also physically inactive. It is important to understand that the holidays are NOT the time to start a new exercise routine or to go join a gym. Instead, take time each day while preparing for the holidays to also prepare yourself. Do your best to carve out 30 minutes each day just to focus on your own mental health and well-being by exercising. This can be accomplished in many different ways.

Be sure to utilize your natural resources as part of your routine. If we are lucky enough to have a snow day, go outside and play. Take sledding for example. You typically do not sled on flat ground. Hiking back up the hill each time has excellent health benefits by raising your heart rate and boosting those endorphins. You are strengthening your core muscles and stretching out your back and legs while hiking up the hill each time. Soak up that vitamin D while you are at it and you have an excellent source of exercise. Your body typically produces less vitamin D in the wintertime anyway because we spend more time indoors. Go outside and play and remember what it was like to be a kid again, especially during the holidays.

Another way to get a little exercise outdoors would include simply going for a walk. If you go in the evening you can walk the neighborhood and see the Christmas light displays. You might find that an evening walk will allow you to also do a little stargazing. Since it will presumably be cold, your body will be working harder to keep your core temperature up. This will also burn some extra calories. leaving room for an extra cookie. The cold air is also good for activating your immune system and for keeping your mind sharp as your brain works better when it is cold.

It is a proven fact that there is a correlation between exercise and curbing depression and anxiety as well as suicidal thoughts. Research has shown that by simply taking a walk, major depression can be reduced by 26 percent. If you maintain an exercise schedule throughout the holidays it will help keep you from relapsing. Exercise has been proven to help promote feelings of calm and improve overall well-being. Go for a a walk or run or take a yoga class. This will also help with the anxiety of being around so many other people. It is a proven fact that exercise also boosts energy without having to indulge in that extra peppermint mocha latte.

Other activities that can be considered exercise during the holidays include hiking through the field and cutting down your own Christmas tree, pushing the heavy grocery cart through the store with all your favorite holiday foods, cleaning the house in preparation for Santa, decorating tile inside and outside of your house, walking around the big box stores aimlessly looking for that perfect present, Christmas caroling with family and friends, having an impromptu dance party in your living room, and shoveling snow. The ultimate goal of exercising through the holidays should be one of maintenance. Maintain your current weight and don’t be concerned about that extra cookie that you rewarded yourself with.

It is imperative to continue some type of exercise through the holidays as it provides structure and balance in your life. When you allow yourself to slack off and deviate from your exercise routine, you run the chance of gaining weight being stressed, depressed, or not sleeping well. Your exercise routine, no matter how short it may be, allows your body to stabilize its circadian rhythm giving us better sleep and laying the foundation for the ability to think more clearly and prioritize tasks at hand.

Make intentional strides towards continuing or adding some type of exercise routine to your holiday schedule. The added energy you will have will make frolicking in tile snow and keeping up with the kids that much easier. While there will never seem to be enough hours in the day, especially during tile holidays, the care you take of yourself will ensure that you can be around for many more holidays to come!

– Your Personal Best Fitness Studio is at 307 Cayuga Drive in Mooresville.

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