During this time of year, your regular routine and commitments are long forgotten as you treat yourself to a break from the usual. But what impact does this lifestyle have on your long-term health?
The health impacts of this period can last long after the last Christmas cracker has popped. Let’s look at ways you can still have a very merry Christmas and a healthy new year.
The impact of a health break
The health changes can last longer than just the holiday season, with studies showing that weight gained during the Christmas period is not always lost again when life returns to normal.
The holiday period may also have adverse effects on your overall health, too. Researchers who tracked holiday health changes found that during this period, healthy adults experienced significant increases in body weight, body fat percentage, blood pressure and resting heart rate.
Keeping active during the holidays
We know that people who stop being physically active over the holiday period have more negative health changes compared to those who maintain their physical activity levels. Plan ahead to help keep your motivation by:
- Scheduling in physical activity time while on holiday
- Including others in your work out – take your mum for a walk or do a circuit with your kids
- Adapting your gym workout for home by using bodyweight or home exercise equipment.
Getting back into your routine
Taking a short break from your usual exercise routine sometimes can’t be avoided. To help you restart your good habits, try some of these tips before your break:
- Pre-book your gym or exercise time in your calendar
- Book a gym program review time with an instructor to start afresh in the new year
- Arrange to meet a friend or colleague to exercise together for that first week back at work
- Be kind to yourself – any physical activity is better than none in the weeks after a holiday.
Sneaky ways to help your holiday health
When you can’t avoid a break from the gym, but you know that doing nothing will set you back big time, what can you do?
According to accredited exercise physiologist, Alex Hardy, some physical activity is better than none. So, if you don’t have time for a vigorous exercise routine over the holiday period, start by simply trying to reduce your sedentary time.
Sedentary time is any time spent not moving like sitting on the couch, in the car or at a table or desk. Try these tips to sneak some form of activity into your holidays:
- Walk everywhere and anytime – aim for a stroll after lunch or leave the car at home
- Bring an active game for Christmas day like kubb or finska, badminton or cricket
- Have your Christmas catch up in a park/playground/beach
- Stand up – volunteer to do the dishes, cook the BBQ or set the table
- Request an active gift – snorkel and fins, tennis racquet, golf clubs, swim goggles and towel
The take home message is “be prepared”. Rewarding yourself with a break from routine is okay, but remember to put your health first:
- Plan ahead
- Keep active
- Try different things
- Bring others on your journey.