The holiday season is a festive time of year, but dashing through the mall searching for gifts, attending Holiday parties and hosting family Christmas dinners, it is often the most stressful time of year for some. So here are five tips for staying healthy and fit during the Holidays.
Doctors and healthcare professionals often tell their patients to avoid over indulging, especially during the Holidays. The best way to achieve this without feeling cheated is to plan your meals for the day. For example, if you are going to have a celebration at work, commit to eating a healthy meal for breakfast and dinner. By balancing your meals throughout the day you can still maintain a healthy diet overall. To help avoid over indulging and maintain a healthy balance of carbs, fats, and proteins you may want to consider a fitness app like My Fitness Pal. These fitness apps can be an indispensable tool for helping individuals stay healthy and fit during the Holidays and throughout the New Year.
In addition to increasing caloric intake, alcoholic beverages can increase blood pressure and slow down your metabolism. So if you are going to drink during the Holidays limit it to no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men. Also, if you do have a drink, avoid drinking quickly and on an empty stomach. Instead, sip it slowly with a meal. Keep in mind that alcohol can increase side effects in certain medications. Check with your physician before consuming alcoholic beverages while taking medication.
Exercising strengthens your heart, tones up muscles and helps maintain a healthy weight. You don’t have to join a gym, just get up and move around throughout the day. Walking, jogging, bicycling and swimming are simple ways to include some form of exercise in your daily routine. For example, a brisk 30-minute walk around your neighborhood burns about 130 calories. And walking upstairs can burn as much as 15-20 calories per minute. Using a fitness app to keep track of your cardio and strength building exercises is a great way to stay in shape during the Holidays.
Did you know that laughter can actually help alleviate stress and has both mental and physical health benefits? That’s right; enjoying a good laugh can ease stress and improve your mood to give you a more positive outlook. It can also make you feel better as the act of laughing causes the body to release neuropeptides, a chemical response that improves the immune system. Laughter can also be beneficial with individuals experiencing bouts of chronic pain. So if you’re feeling stressed or run-down during the Holidays, give yourself a dose of one of your favorite comedy shows and enjoy a laugh with family and friends.
Perhaps the most important tip for staying healthy and fit during the Holidays, and any time of year for that matter, is to get enough sleep every night. Your body needs about 7-8 hours to fully rejuvenate itself which enables you to stay physically and mentally fit. Not getting enough sleep can make it difficult maintain a healthy weight and can cause other health issues. To help get a better nights sleep end your day on a positive note before climbing into bed. Also, avoid drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages within 4-5 hours of bed time. The effects of caffeine and alcohol can last several hours and can keep you awake when you are trying to fall asleep. If having trouble getting a good night’s sleep becomes a regular occurrence or is otherwise bothersome, it is time to speak with your physician. There may be an underlying condition causing frequent periods of insomnia.
For more information about Health and Wellness during, and after, the Holiday Season contact Dr. John Hill, MD at West Volusia Family and Sports Medicine at 386-774-0016 and schedule a consultation.