Staying Active During The Holidays

By Kari Hartel, RD, LD
Program Coordinator, Cooking Matters, Operation Food Search

As winter settles in around us, we often start to slack off when it comes to physical activity. It’s not difficult to see why this happens – it’s cold and snowy outside, which limits the ability to do fun, outdoorsy activities, and we fall into the lazy comforts of cozying up on the couch with loved ones and snacking on the abundance of holiday goodies. Additionally, the days are much shorter and the limited hours of sunlight don’t encourage us to get outside and get moving.

However, it’s important to stay active throughout the holiday season and the rest of the winter. Being physically active every day helps us avoid weight gain, keeps our tickers ticking properly, increases our energy levels, wards off depression and anxiety, and helps prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases. That long list of benefits should be enough to help encourage us to get off the couch and get moving, but it’s more difficult to get motivated to exercise during the holidays and cold winter months.

There are ways to make sure we get up, get out, and get going, even if it’s snowing! Here are few tips:

  • Embrace the season and enjoy outdoor winter activities. Ice-skating, sledding, building snowmen (especially if you have young children or grandchildren) can be tremendously fun and are great forms of exercise. Be sure to bundle up – having a good supply of thick, warm gloves, scarves and hats handy will help ensure you’re ready for some refreshing outdoor events.
  • The holiday season also brings on the shopping season. Great news for your waistline (maybe not for your wallet) is that shopping is great exercise. Round up a few friends or family members and hit the mall. Just be sure to have a healthy snack before you head out on your shopping adventure – most shopping mall food courts don’t offer up the healthiest options.
  • Invest in a set of 5-10 pounds dumbbells and keep them by your couch. Since you’ll likely be spending more time indoors and in front of the television (Christmas movie marathons, perhaps?), keep your muscles strong by lifting weights while you watch. Lifting weights at least two to three times per week will guarantee you build and maintain muscle mass, which incinerates calories even while you’re at rest.
  • Don’t forget about Fido! If you have a dog, make sure you’re keeping man’s best friend active as well. Dogs need daily exercise, and a brisk, long walk will keep both of you in shape during the winter. Don’t have a pet of your own? No worries. Many animal shelters need people to volunteer to walk their dogs. You’ll be getting exercise and it is all for a good cause. I call that a win-win.

Join the Anchors & Reporters of KMOV-TV between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 11 at the West Oak Dierbergs store in Creve Coeur, MO and the Green Mount Crossing Dierbergs in Shiloh, IL. They will be on hand between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. to say hello and collect food for our neighbors in need during their Thanks4Giving Can-a-thon to benefit Operation Food Search!