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Plan To Stay Active Throughout the Holidays

November 27, 2023

By Angie Aybar, MD

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and often indulgence. As we gather with friends and loved ones to share in the festivities, it's easy for our health and fitness routines to take a backseat. However, staying active during this time of year is helpful for your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Below are some practical ideas and strategies to help you stay active during the holiday season.

Integrate Movement Into Your Holiday Comings and Goings.

As you join in holiday celebrations, look for opportunities to incorporate movement into your activities. Here are a few suggestions:

  • When shopping, park as far away from your destination as possible or take a few quick laps around the shopping center or mall before entering any stores.
  • Take the stairs whenever possible, including parking garages and shopping centers, while keeping safety top of mind.
  • Instead of driving to see holiday lights, walk! Houston and the surrounding areas offer several walkable light displays that are fun and festive.
  • Try an activity associated with the holidays, like ice skating or a holiday-themed fun run/walk.
active walk under the lights 

If the weather is cold or wet, embrace indoor workouts. Whether it's a home workout or a workout at a gym, there are plenty of indoor options to keep you active.

Plan Activities That Don't Involve Eating

Your holiday celebrations don't have to revolve around eating. Consider incorporating meaningful activities that focus on time spent with friends and loved ones. Here are some examples:

  • Volunteer in the community: At this time of year, nonprofits need help fulfilling their lifesaving missions. Help pack care packages for people experiencing homelessness or sign up as a volunteer at 5K race. You'll not only stay active but also impact the lives of others in the process.
  • Visit that museum or exhibit you've been wanting to see: During the holiday season, you may have a bit of downtime. Consider inviting a friend to stroll through the museum or exhibit you've wanted to see in lieu of grabbing lunch or a cocktail.
  • Create your own outdoor activity: Instead of sitting around a table full of food, invite your friends and family and go for a group walk or scavenger hunt. You'll not only burn off those holiday calories but also create fun memories!
active family on a hike 

Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic and achievable goals is the key to success during the holidays. Instead of aiming for an intense workout every day, consider setting a goal to stay active for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. Your 30 minutes of activity could include:

  • A brisk walk.
  • A quick home workout.
  • Even a fun dance session with friends and family.

Rather than stressing about fitting in a rigorous workout, focus on maintaining a consistent routine. Short, regular bursts of activity can be just as effective as long sessions, and they're often easier to squeeze into a busy schedule.

active family dancing 

Incorporate Stress-Relief Techniques

There's no doubt the holidays can be a stressful time for many. Incorporating stress-relief activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga into your daily routine can help maintain a healthy mind-body balance. Managing stress and anxiety is crucial for overall well-being and can positively impact your motivation to stay active.

Make Nutrition a Priority

If you're not mindful of what you're eating, and how much, you'll cancel out all the effort you've made to stay active. High-caloric foods full of fat and sugar are everywhere during the holiday season. If you want to indulge, be mindful of portion control and enjoy them in moderation. Be aware, too, of the number of alcoholic beverages you consume. Water, tea, and plain coffee are always your best bets.

Striking a Balance

Remember that staying active during the holiday season and, for that matter, throughout the entire year is about finding a balance that works well for you. By setting realistic goals and looking for ways to integrate activity into your celebrations, you can maintain a healthy lifestyle as you navigate this time of year. Embrace the season, savor the fun, and prioritize your well-being for a joyful and active holiday.

Portrait of Angie Aybar, MD, Family Medicine specialist at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.

About this Author

Dr. Angie Aybar is a Family Medicine physician at Kelsey-Seybold. She provides preventive care as well as treatment for a broad range of conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, mental health disorders, osteoarthritis, acne, anemia, obesity, STIs, high cholesterol, eczema, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis.

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