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The holidays can be a burden or a mixed blessing. You either have too much to do or you feel left out. You miss your family or you wish you didn’t feel obligated to show up. Whichever place you’re in, regular exercise, along with your relaxation techniques, is especially important to keep you feeling healthy and balanced during this time of year.

The promise to meet someone will help you show up and the company may improve your workout

Taking off a day or two isn’t a problem. But interrupting your pattern for weeks or months will set you back. Over the years, I’ve discovered eight strategies to keep my clients on track during the holiday bustle.

1. Exercise Early

I don’t mean at the crack of dawn. In fact, if you have heart disease or diabetes, jumping out of bed and into your fitness clothes and out the door may be taking an unnecessary risk (See Ornish Living articles, Not an Early Bird? Morning Exercise Isn’t Always the Best and Take Caution with Morning Exercise). But I absolutely encourage everyone to make exercise a priority early in the day. You’ll be more energetic as the hours add up and are less likely to be derailed by schedule changes.

2. Keep An Exercise Log

Note your activities and the timing. As you take those notes, you’ll bolster your commitment and you can look back on your log later with satisfaction. Like a coach, the log can also show you when you’re being less diligent.

3. Plan Back-up Options

During the holidays, especially, our days tend to include some surprises– unexpected butter cookie- and-cider parties at the office, or trips to the mall for another gift. Whenever you can’t stick to your exercise program, think about a Plan B. It might be a half hour with an exercise ball and resistance bands at home, or a brisk walk outdoors after dinner.

4. Don’t Demand Perfection

So your squash buddy cancels and you get stuck at the office and never make it to the gym? Go for that after-dinner walk and give yourself full credit instead of bathing in self-criticism.

5. Schedule a Goal in January or February that Requires Training

Let’s say you plan on a ski trip. Decide to build up your stamina in advance.

6. Find An Exercise Buddy for the Holiday Season

Even if you usually go it alone, now is the time to team up. The promise to meet someone will help you show up and the company may improve your workout. (See Ornish Living article, The Benefits of Sharing Workouts with Friends).

7. Schedule Training Sessions

Many people say to trainers, “I’ll see you after New Year’s.” Instead, if your schedule is tight, plan on meeting at least twice a month. Just two sessions in November and in December have kept my clients on track for the entire holiday season. If you’re thinking about starting training sessions in January, start in November instead.

8. Go Outdoors in Cold Weather

As the temperature drops, it’s tempting to favor gyms or become sedentary. Some people think you have to be extremely fit to exercise in the cold. Actually, as long as you keep moving and dress appropriately, your body will warm up. Heart patients should ask their doctors for guidance.

By the way, it’s fine to exercise before a flu shot, according to an August, 2016 study from the prestigious Cochrane group.

What can you do to keep up exercise in the holiday season?

Contributed by

Phil Hardesty
Exercise Physiologist

Have a healthy, happy and fit week!!

Better Health Begins With You...

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