Making time for exercise is always difficult, but it is especially challenging in the holiday season. Whether you feel restricted by freezing temperatures, limited daylight hours, or the pressure of familial and social obligations, you’re certainly not alone if you struggle to get your fitness in during the winter months! According to a Gallup poll, the percentage of Americans who exercise for at least 30 minutes, 3 or more days a week reaches its lowest point each December. What’s more, healthy eating habits are also reported to be at a yearly low in December. The result? Millions of Americans are at an increased risk of obesity and chronic disease.
If you struggle to stay active and eat nutritious food during the holidays, keep reading. Today on the blog I’ll share 5 great tips for staying healthy as we enter the holiday season.
1. Get a Group
There’s probably nothing more motivating than feeling obligated to other people! Joining a fitness class, running group, or exercise community of some sort can be both inspiring and fun! In Louisville, there are tons of options: The YMCA, Orange Theory, Baptist Health, barre3, Shred415, Jazzercise, FIT Louisville, WEL at Humana, and Cyclebar are just a few of the gyms that offer group and individual classes. Looking to join a fitness community for free? Check out Meetups.com! This platform brings together people of different backgrounds, such as hikers, women 50+, trail runners, pool players, and more. Facebook is also another good resource for finding local interest groups.
2. Dress For the Weather
Feel hindered by freezing temperatures and 5 o’clock sunsets? The trick to exercising outdoors in the winter is to prepare for the elements! Learn how to layer up your clothing. It’s not uncommon to wear 2, 3, or even 4 layers when it’s cold outside. Also be sure to cover your extremities–investing in warm gloves, socks, and a hat is critical. When it snows, you can purchase rubber shoe grips that allow you to walk and run on slippery surfaces with ease. Plus, sledding, shoveling snow, ice skating, and skiing definitely counts as exercise. Truth be told, if you’re dedicated enough, you can enjoy the outdoors year round. It just takes a little extra effort!
3. Don’t Wait For the New Year
It’s easy to push off healthy habits to next week or the new year, especially as we overindulge in food and feel guilty. The trick to any lasting exercise routine? Starting! In fact, it’s far more sustainable to slowly incorporate exercise in a fun, flexible way than try to go too hard on January 1st and burn out. Studies have found that any amount of exercise is better than none at all, even if it’s walking down your street or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Committing to an active lifestyle also improves your quality of sleep, boosts your energy, reduces your risk of depression and anxiety, reduces your risk of dozens of diseases, and has other innumerable health benefits.
4. Boost Your Immune System With Food
Your diet doesn’t just impact your weight, but it impacts your immune response and ability to fight infections! Getting key micronutrients is especially important in the winter months. Vitamin C, B, E, A, zinc, iron, selenium, and protein are especially important to look for in food for immunity. Citrus fruits, broccoli, garlic, ginger, spinach, yogurt, blueberries, lean meats, red bell peppers, beans, seeds, and nuts are some great vitamin-dense and antioxidant-rich foods to incorporate into your diet. Remember: it’s all about balance. It’s okay to indulge in holiday treats on occasion!
As daylight hours decrease, our Vitamin D levels also drop, so it’s critical to get more Vitamin D from your diet (fatty fish/seafood, mushrooms, egg yolks, fortified milks and cereal) or even dietary supplements. Unfortunately, many people have a Vitamin D deficiency and don’t realize it.
5. Get Creative With Activity
Don’t have time to go to the gym or brave freezing temps? Don’t fret! There’s a huge variety of home-exercise routines you can do. Youtube is a great free resource for finding 10 minute to 2 hour-long fitness videos. From yoga to ab burns to expert HIIT workouts, you can find just about anything, no equipment or experience necessary. Some other popular at-home activities include trampolining, jumping rope, and dancing.
If you or a loved one has sustained a sports-related injury in the Louisville, Kentucky-area, board certified sports medicine physician Dr. Stacie Grossfeld at Orthopaedic Specialists PLLC can help. Orthopaedic Specialists is currently accepting new patients, and same day/telemedicine appointments are also available. For additional information or to schedule an appointment today, call 502-212-2663.