Getting enough exercise during the holidays can be hard.  We are all so busy with shopping, cooking, social events, entertaining, and holiday travel.  With so many things to accomplish and extra demands on our time, it’s tempting to skip the exercise routine and focus on other things.  The colder temperatures and shorter daylight hours provide us with excuses not to get outdoors.  In spite of these challenges, we know that there are many health benefits to getting regular exercise.  For a lot of us, the holiday season is a time when we actually need it the most.

Benefits of regular exercise

Here are some benefits of continuing your regular exercise routine during the holidays:

  • Prevents weight gain – Exercise burns calories and helps us maintain a healthy weight.  People tend to consume more calorie-rich foods during this time of year.  We attend parties, entertain friends and family, drink more alcohol, and buy extra treats.  This translates into added pounds unless we do something physical to burn off the calories.  In addition to preventing weight gain, exercise helps us maintain muscle mass and sustain metabolic rate.
  • Alleviates stress – Exercise provides stress relief and reduces anxiety.  Physical activity can improve mood by stimulating the body’s production of endorphins, hormones that help us cope with stress and pain.  These “feel good” chemicals increase feelings of well-being and improve self-esteem.  They help us feel more relaxed and may provide better quality sleep.  Moderate exercise three times per week can raise endorphin levels.
  • Counters depression – Some people are affected by seasonal depression during the late fall and winter.  Fewer hours of daylight and lack of sunshine can bring on the “winter blues”.  Exercising outdoors for thirty minutes a day, three days a week during daylight hours can improve symptoms.

How to fit in a workout

  • Allow time in your schedule.  It can be a challenge to find time to exercise during the holidays, so be purposeful about it.  Remind yourself that you’ll feel better and have more energy if you try to stick to your exercise routine.
  • Be creative with your workout.  If you don’t have time to go to the gym, find other ways to get exercise.  Take a walk around the neighborhood or enjoy a bike ride.  Park farther away at the mall so you’ll get more steps.  If you can’t make your aerobics class, turn on some music and do a short workout at home.  Even a few minutes of exercise can keep you motivated.
  • Track your activity.  Use an activity tracker, fitness watch, or the health app on your cell phone to track daily progress.  This helps you be more conscious of your activity level.

Continuing a regular exercise routine during the holidays helps keep us on track.  It provides stability, helps us maintain sleep schedules, and helps compensate for the extra calories we consume.  It improves our mood and reduces stress in this hectic time of year.  Abandoning our workouts now makes it that much harder to refocus in January.

The physicians at RMD Primary Care can answer your questions about the health benefits of a regular exercise routine.  Contact us today for an appointment.