How to Stay Fit During the Holidays | YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka
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How to Stay Fit During the Holidays

Stay fit with MyY during this holiday season.

By: Teresa Zacharias, MyY Barrie

The holidays are a time when routines get thrown out the window, including the time we spend being active and eating healthy. With all the stress and extra calories we consume during this time of year, it’s important not to get derailed from our efforts to stay active and healthy.

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2000 by researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), people gain, on average, over half a pound during the holidays, and 1.5 pounds over the entire year. While that’s roughly four times less than what people think they gain, people who are overweight or obese (in Canada, 62% of the adult population) are more likely to experience a major holiday weight gain of at least five pounds.

Enlist a Buddy

Make your commitment to staying fit with a friend or spouse. By being each other’s personal cheerleaders and scheduling workouts together, you are more likely to stay committed and on track.

Plan Ahead

Just like you write down all the parties and family visits you’ll be attending over the holidays, make sure to schedule in your workouts as well! Make a plan that works with your holiday schedule and stick to it. Remember that some exercise is better than none and rather than not going to the gym altogether, you can make time for a quick 15-minute workout. It may not be your normal workout, but if you sweat you will probably feel a lot better when you’re done.

Make Exercise a Priority

Exercise is great way to help prevent weight gain and make up for some holiday indulgences. It’s also a great way to manage the stress and anxiety that we experience during the holiday season. Such things as – taking a family walk after your holiday meal, scheduling a workout with a trainer, recruiting a friend as a walking buddy, incorporating walking into your holiday shopping, house cleaning, and shovelling are all great examples of how to fit some exercise into your holidays.

Find Workouts You Can Do from Home

If you just don’t have time to get to the gym then why not exercise at home? You can create your own routine using a DVD, exercise TV or purchase a routine from a personal trainer. It is a great way to stay fit and squeeze in your health commitment during the holidays

Make it a Family Event

The whole family can enjoy some healthy exercise during the holidays. Try tobogganing, ice skating, have a family snowball fight or go skiing. You’ll not only get moving but you’ll be creating memories to cherish.

Keep Moving

Try to avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time, such as when visiting with friends or watching holiday movies. Research shows that getting up for just five minutes every 30 to 60 minutes and performing light activity (such as walking around the house or performing simple squat exercises) reduces the risk of diabetes and other heart disease risk factors.

Create a Good Habit

The good habit of staying physically active during the holidays can result in gaining less weight over the years. Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, medical director of the Bariatric Institute in Ottawa stated in his blog, Weighty Matters, “our behavior in colder months may lead to winter weight gain for some of us. Research shows that we tend to gain one or two pounds between late November and early January. The good news is that the people who reported the most physical activity through the holiday season showed the least weight gain. Some even managed to lose weight.

Indulge for a Night; Not a Season

It’s easy to overindulge at this time of year, but you should be careful that you don’t allow the ‘treats’ to become consumed regularly. Don’t let them linger in the house after the celebration has ended. When the party or holidays are over, get rid of the junk food!

It’s Only One Day

Enjoy the holiday. The reality is that one day won’t make or break your health plan. Unfortunately, many people start a pattern of daily ‘treats’ in some form or another or skip exercise altogether. That routine then somehow continues through to the end of the year. Don’t let a day of indulgence turn into a month that leads to unwanted habits and weight that continues beyond the holiday season.

Remember Liquid Calories

Holiday parties are notorious for having delicious wine and glasses filled with tasty alcoholic beverages. Most often we forget that they can be just as unhealthy as anything off the tray of sweets. Limit yourself to just one or two drinks to prevent these sneaky calories from sabotaging your healthy efforts.

Have Protein at Each Meal

Protein is nature’s diet pill. The digestion of protein gives rise to a steady, more prolonged blood glucose level, which translates to less hunger and more energy.

Avoid Mindless Eating

Be mindful when eating every meal and every snack at every party. Don’t linger around the buffet table as you converse with others. Instead, pre-plate all your food as we tend to eat less if we can see it all together before we start eating. You should also stay hydrated. Thirst can be masked as hunger so a large glass of water before a meal can help lessen the amount of food you consume. Try drinking two big glasses of water before the big, calorie packed meals.

Visit Your Local YMCA

The YMCA is a great place to visit during the holidays. It’s not only a place to burn off calories, it’s a place take part in some festive activities as well. During the holidays, the Y is open every day but Christmas Day. Join us for themed Family Nights with Family Zumba, Open Swim, Group Power classes, Cycling and more!

For more information on hours and activities over the holidays, please visit our website.

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