Joyous news: the Holiday Season is here! Is your emotional reaction happy, excited, sad, anxious or stressed? What about your schedule? Getting overbooked already? How can you possibly squeeze in time for mood improving, weight managing, and health improving fitness? And what about time for sleep?
More joyous news: you can stay fit through the holidays without further stressing your mind or your schedule. In fact, fitness activities temper emotions and clear the mind, allowing you to stay more efficient. Feeling fit and mentally clear will make every holiday more manageable. Here’s how:
First, rethink what exercise is.
The most beneficial exercise does not require changing clothes, breaking a sweat, joining a gym or hiring a trainer. The best exercise is walking.All fitness studies have concluded that walking in 10 minute increments for a total of 20-30 minutes a day increases cardiac, mental and overall health. Think about that. Ten minutes, three times a day. That equates to parking farther away, zooming around a store a few extra times, walking the dog a few extra blocks, taking a 10 minute walk at lunch or after meals or even marching in place while waiting on line. Walking increases your life span and keeps your lower body bones and spine strong. It is good for balance and an excellent means of transportation.
For those of you with lower body injuries or pain, don’t give up. If you don’t have time to get to the doctor, you can go directly to a physical therapist who will give you exercises and do treatments to alleviate the pain. Want to heal yourself? Search WebMD for tips on common causes of foot, knee and hip pain such as plantar fasciitis, patellofemoral pain and bursitis. Icing twice a day for five minutes can be curative. Also, know that walking for 10 minutes should not make any of these conditions worse.
Another great exercise, especially if you are injured, is biking. Consider biking for transportation to town or the train and use a helmet. Too cold or dark out? A stationary bike is a great place to read the paper, catch up on emails or social media or have a chat with a family member. A decent stationary bike is around $200—the perfect early holiday gift.
If you love the gym like me but don’t feel you have the time, rethink your gym workout. Try to combine exercises ,such as abs with arm strengthening or leg raises. Using an elliptical or bike with arm pulls for 20 minutes is all you really need. You can stretch and do spot toning at home later when watching TV or right before bed while winding down. Keeping a foam roller and a few weights at home will allow you to extend your gym workout to later in the day or early in the morning.
Finally, use your weekends. Studies show that you can catch up on both sleep and exercise by binging on both when you have the time. The results are cumulative over a week. And don’t forget to stretch on weekends to prevent pain.
Questions? Feel free to reach out on Twitter, @DrNadyaSwedan.