Five Tips to Stay Healthy this Holiday Season

Christmas is a special time of year.

It’s filled with presents, food, family and lots of holiday cheer.

But when it’s all over and there is nothing left to do,

We are often left unhealthier and feeling somewhat blue.

So here is a list of 5 things that you can do,

To make sure this season doesn’t leave too many New Year’s Resolutions for you!

  1. Get lots of sleep: If you want to ensure you don’t munch on goodies all day, stay cheery, have lots of energy and stick with an active lifestyle, it is ESSENTIAL that you get all the zzzz’s you can. There is a strong and growing field of research to indicate a significant relationship between lack of sleep and obesity. So schedule in your 8 hours for every night this holiday!!!
  2. Liquid Calories and Portion Size: ‘Tis the season of food and drink. And we shouldn’t deprive ourselves of our favourites, but remember, one or two bites should be good enough to satisfy your cravings! Keep portion sizes in mind and be aware of how many snacks you’re eating while waiting for the big turkey or ham. Try to avoid loading up on mashed potatoes, dinner rolls and gravy. More importantly, keep track of how many glasses of wine, beer and hot chocolate you’re drinking. Those liquid calories add up fast!!!
  3. 30 minutes to move:  Time is a big barrier to maintaining physical activity levels over the break, but all you need is 30 minutes, and  no one said they had to be a solitary 30 minutes! Go for a walk with your siblings or parents or cousins or in-laws or nieces and nephews. It’s a great way to keep moving and a great way to have meaningful conversations with your loved ones! Here is a little inspiration for those 30 minutes a day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUaInS6HIGo
  4. Laugh Lots!: Laughter really is the best medicine. It’s a great stress reliever, and boy do we ever need one at this time of year. So either rent a good comedy or bring up old embarrassing stories of one another and get laughing. You might even get a good ab workout from it J
  5. Relax and Enjoy: Many of us work our buns off so that we can enjoy time off with the families this time of year. Some of us have worked really hard to ensure that our families have a great holiday meal, presents and the like. Overall, we lead stressful lives, and this time of year is no exception. Be kind to your mind and body by taking some time to rest, relax and enjoy the season. Do some yoga, take a nap or listen to soothing music. Whatever works for you!

If you’re happy, rested and relaxed, you’ll be able to stick with your healthy, active lifestyle forever!

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Ever see an overweight environmentalist?

When I was in grad school, I made my way over to the environmental studies building a couple of times so that I could recruit potential participants. Each time I was there, I noticed something strange. Everyone there was in the “normal” category for body mass index. Moreover, all the participants I screened from that program were ineligible because they were already physically active. It made me wonder, is there something about being an environmentalist, or an environmentally friendly person, that makes one healthier?

As far as I can tell, the answer is YES. I should mention that this article is completely opinion based (and somewhat observational). I’m sure there are overweight enviro-friendly people; I’ve just never met one! So what is it about being green that makes one healthy? My guess is two things; active transportation and local fresh food.

Active transportation means that instead of sitting in a pollution spewing car, enviro-friendly people opt to walk or cycle to work or school. If the distance is too great, they are more likely to take public transit, which also requires a bit of walking (to and from the bus-stop). There are several studies to indicate that those who engage in active transportation are more likely to be in the normal body mass index category. There is also emerging evidence that these individuals are overall healthier.

Eating locally grown food is known to reduce one’s carbon footprint, but it may also mean committing to eating fewer processed foods. Eating produce, breads and meat from local farms means more home cooking and consumption of fewer foods with added sugar and preservatives. Thus by eating local foods, one might be committing to a healthier diet as well as a greener planet.

Surely there are other behaviours that contribute to this “phenomenon”. But as a health and exercise scientist, these two are the most obvious ones to me. What is also obvious from writing this article is that a commitment to a green lifestyle might also be an important step in committing to a HALF!

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