During the holidays, it’s tempting to throw your workouts by the wayside with the promise to start again after the New Year. Research shows that when regular exercise stops, we start to lose the benefit of the previous exercise routine within a few weeks. Ones cardio level starts to wane, and muscle starts to atrophy. It would be better to shift to a maintenance workout than to stop altogether and lose what you've worked so hard to gain. The goal is to maintain what we have accomplished during the year in these final days so we can add to our previous accomplishments at the beginning of the new year, rather than having to start over again.
Even if you need to reduce the time of each session or cut back one workout a week, maintaining the momentum of your regular exercise routine is much easier than stopping and trying to re-establish it again later.
There are many reasons exercise can be a valuable tool to get you through the challenges of the holiday season. Here are a few reasons why you should give yourself the gift of regular exercise.
Possible Holiday Weight Gain
Of course the holidays are a high-risk time for gaining weight. Exercise can combat this risk by burning calories and by maintaining muscle mass which sustains metabolic rate. Keeping your metabolism burning calories at a higher rate is a good way to keep those extra calories consumed at thanksgiving and Christmas from adding to your waistline.
Everyone has some form of Holiday Stress
Shopping, increased food preparation, frequent visitors, family - all lead to increased stress. We all need a way to manage this inevitability in a healthy way. Stress is a part of life - managed correctly it can be an inspiration rather than a detriment. Exercise promotes the release of hormones that improve mood and reduce feelings of anxiety. Exercise can also be a form of meditation - a way that allows for the physical release of stress - making sure this stress does not stay in the body or mind.
As we approach the winter, the season chips away at our daylight hours. For many people, this can lead to varying degrees of seasonal depression. Exercise can reduce symptoms of depression and elevate one's mood. Physically changing the bodies metabolism affects the way our brain processes stress, anxiety, and depression. There are many reasons to seek help for depression through friends, loved ones, or professionals. With that said, I would argue that going on a walk every day in the sun or going to the gym and working out, simply moving your body can be just as important.
Exercise Structure - a healthy pattern
Regular exercise provides a structure - a healthy pattern - that the body and mind can use to maintain a healthy state. One of the main reasons we get stressed, depressed, or gain weight is due to this reduction in structure and change in our daily routines. Inevitably we get stressed - the key is to be able to release this stress without it becoming harmful. Maintaining regular exercise provides this structure which aids in keeping the body regular and stress free.
Continuing a healthy workout routine will help you stay on track with food intake, keeping weight gain to a minimum, aid in healthy sleep, and provide a beneficial process to juggle the demands of the holiday season. Let’s stay healthy while we enjoy this wonderful season.
This blog was written by Demi Gregg, Personal Trainer at Body Kinetics Mill Valley