Don’t Let the Holidays Break Your Stride

Nicholas J. Perri MA, NASM-PES

It’s Cyber Monday, Black Friday is history and there are now just three weeks left to get your shopping done! My advice to you is, “DON’T PANIC!”

You’ve been great all year. You’ve established good exercise habits and even if you’re not running-Santa-cartoonexactly where you’d like to be, now is NOT the time to use the hustle and bustle of the holiday season as an excuse to not maintain your exercise routine. To build on what my friend and blog contributor, Jen Noonan, said so eloquently…”stick with the same schedule you have maintained throughout the year.” While you may not think you can fit it all in, you can. And not letting the holiday crunch “break your stride” can have positive effects on you that will last into the new year and beyond.

1. Exercise helps you cope with stress. During this crazy time of year, stress comes at you from every direction. Finances may be tight, family relationships are being put to the test and trying to maintain a work/life balance seems to be a struggle. By maintaining your fitness routine, you will have a built in outlet for stress relief. 

2. Exercise burns calories. Along with the holiday season comes work parties, family get togethers and pub crawls. Bottom line is, you’re eating and drinking a lot more than you might usually. Maintaining your good exercise habits will help you expend some of those extra calories and possibly keep you on your best behavior…especially if you have an early morning run planned with friends or workout scheduled with your trainer.

3. Exercise makes you feel good! Like many people, you may force yourself to workout. You may not enjoy one minute of it. But exercise releases endorphins…hormones that are secreted in the brain and nervous system that give the body that natural high. So, if the holidays are getting you down…exercise is the all natural way to get your spirits up. With all of the added physical benefits that exercise provides, it’s really a no-“brainer.”

4. Exercise will help you “maintain.” By continuing with your exercise habits during the holiday season, you are laying the groundwork for maintaining a schedule and stability throughout your day and week. With the exception of a little shopping and the occasional party, keep to your normal daily routine. Having the mindset that it’s “business as usual” should keep you on better track with your diet, sleep schedule and overall mood during this otherwise stressful time.

With all that said, it’s okay to partake in a few of those seasonal dishes that we only get to enjoy during this festive and sometimes stressful time of year. We have 365 days to work with and only a handful of them are designated for the “holidays.” What’s really important are the healthy habits we create as the foundation for the rest of the year.

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