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Dec. 16, 2016 // WorkLife Wellness: Fitness for the Holidays

As the days shorten, we can foresee the approach of every special day from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Years. As with the age-old yin yang tradition, the joy of these pending events also has a commensurate downside: the risk of overindulgence, inertia and weight gain. Below are tips on how to maintain good physical fitness and control of eating and drinking.

  • Keep things moving: The extensive sitting and socializing germane to the holiday period leads to weight gain. So, instead of sitting motionless for hours in front of a football game, get up and move. Doing light exercise activities (e.g., pushups, squats or stretching) for just five minutes every 30 to 60 minutes can help. When you fit in brief cardio workouts such as walking, jogging, biking, swimming or rowing, it only takes 20 to 30 minutes to receive good cardiovascular benefit.
  • Stay hydrated throughout: Drinking a large glass of water 20 to 30 minutes before a holiday meal (and especially before taking seconds) can help lessen the amount of food you consume. Plus, water keeps you hydrated and helps you burn fat more efficiently.
  • Solidify your workout plans: Regardless of all that might be going on during a busy week, plan and schedule your workouts in advance to ensure that they are a fixed part of your day. Remember that doing some exercise is better than doing none. Rather than completely skipping a workout, fit in a quick, intense exercise session. You’ll still sweat and feel better!
  • Get a fitness buddy: Ask a fitness-minded friend or family member (especially if you’re traveling) to join you as a holiday exercise buddy. By scheduling simultaneous workouts, walks or runs, you’re more likely to honor your fitness commitments and stay on a healthy track during the holidays. Additionally, try making exercise a family affair with group walks, hikes or ice-skating.
  • Have an eating and fitness plan: Amidst all the treats and sweets, strive to track your food intake and activity levels. This way you’ll be more aware of calories as they accumulate. Plus, if you decide to enjoy some higher-calorie options, you’ll be motivated to make adjustments such as taking smaller portions to meet your daily caloric goals. If you’re tech-oriented, use a fitness app to track your workout progress.
  • Eat slowly: Try to take your time eating and enjoying flavors. Chewing your food more slowly allows the “hungry-full” response from your brain to tell you that you’re sated, which takes approximately 20 minutes. If you eat too quickly, you’ll likely eat too much.
  • Beware the beverage calories: Remember that even though your favorite holiday adult beverage doesn’t have an affixed nutrition label, it’s probably quite calorie-laden. Limit yourself to one or two drinks, and alternate with drinks of water to keep good balance.
  • Banish the leftovers: Whether it’s bags of unused Halloween candy or Tupperware containers full of Thanksgiving leftovers, make an effort to promptly jettison excess high-calorie treats.

Accessible 24/7, your FAA WorkLife Solutions Program offers many resources and services to help you and your family. Options available through the program include concierge services to help with everyday events needing your time and attention, child and elder care options, legal and financial services, in-person counseling, and much more. Call your program at 1-800-234-1327, TTY Users: 1-800-456-4006, or log on to www.MagellanHealth.com/Member to begin accessing these services.

Additional sources: Health.usnews.com, Military.com.