It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We’re surrounded by an endless stream of delicious roast dinners, puddings, pavlovas, wines and cakes…ah, the list of goodies goes on. But is that any reason to let a year of hard work at regular exercise and good health go to waste [or should we say, waist?]
Not according to Exercise & Sports Science Australia’s (ESSA) Executive Officer Anita Hobson-Powell, who says it’s easy to implement small changes each day during the holidays to beat the Christmas bulge.
“A little bit of watching what we eat goes a long way, especially at a time of year when there are so many delicious treats on offer,” said Ms Hobson-Powell.
“December is the month when many of us frequently overindulge and we do this on the basis that New Year’s resolutions will get us right back on track. In reality, however, preventing weight gain in the first place is so much easier than kick-starting a latent fitness regime – after the last lick of double cream. This year we’re challenging people to maintain some level of exercise – in a fun way – during the silly season, to prevent having to battle the bulge as 2013 begins.”
“Our tips are not just ‘nice-to-dos’, given enough time or motivation; in fact, they’re easy to implement and should be considered ‘must-dos’ if we want to get 2013 off to a great and healthy start.”
Ms Hobson-Powell shared the following top tips from ESSA for preventing kilos from packing on during the holidays:
1. Stick with your routine – don’t quit just because it’s Christmas! Do continue your current exercise routine. Staying active will make you feel better and make your life much easier in the New Year.
2. Stay the course – don’t be silly and try to lose weight in December. Do give yourself a break! Just stay on course and work to maintain your weight by managing intake and physical activity.
3. Seize the moment – don’t be thwarted by a busy holiday schedule that crowds out exercise. Do seize chances for unexpected exercise. When shopping, take the stairs or walk up and down escalators. Or, when you arrive at a party, try parking as far away as possible for a short power walk.
4. Explore your holiday destination – don’t fall into the vacation-destination trap of lounging and over-indulging. Do integrate exercise into your daily schedule, even if you’re away from home. Walking is one of the best ways to discover a new place – and to keep active.
5. Play with your children – don’t just turn the kids loose over the holidays. Do jump right in with them! Playing with your children can be a great way to increase your heart rate – while having fun. There are so many games you can play together – cricket, Frisbee, tag, swimming, bike riding and more.
6. Reduce your stress – don’t let Christmas be synonymous with stress. Do use exercise as an outlet for stress relief. Exercise can improve general happiness and provide relief from feelings of being overwhelmed.
7. Dance! – don’t just sit on the sidelines. Do shake your groove thing! Enjoy yourself at the next party by getting up for a dance with friends. It’s a great way to have a quick workout while simultaneously being festive.
8. Go see the sights – don’t let the holidays slip by without taking time to enjoy their colours! Do plan a night with your family to view Christmas lights and decorations. Many suburbs have entire streets decorated, and you can walk the streets as a family, enjoying the beautiful summer weather and festive, twinkling atmosphere.
If you need help getting started, find your local accredited exercise physiologist, by visiting www.essa.org.au. Medicare may also fund treatment sessions if you suffer from a chronic health condition. Please see a GP for referral.
Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is the peak professional body for exercise and sports science in Australia, and provides national leadership and advocacy on key issues. ESSA supports its 3,500+ members and the community by fostering excellence in professional practice, education, training and research.
ABOUT EXERCISE IS MEDICINE®
Exercise is Medicine®, as an initiative of Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA), aims to make physical activity and exercise a standard part of a disease prevention and treatment paradigm in Australia, improving community health and reducing long-term health care costs. The program hopes to make every Australian doctor consider physical activity and exercise as a standard part of treatment programs, resulting in more prescribed exercise for the prevention or treatment of chronic conditions.
The three guiding principles of Exercise is Medicine® Australia are designed to improve the health and well being of all Australians through regular physical activity prescription from doctors and other allied health providers. The guiding principles include:
Physical activity and exercise are important to health, and to the prevention and treatment of many chronic diseases;
More should be done to address physical activity and exercise in health care settings; and
Doctors should support the referral of patients to appropriately trained allied health professionals to deliver exercise treatment services.