It’s nearly the thick of winter and Christmas is just around thecorner. With so much to do, you may be tempted to forgo your workout routineand continue through December without thinking of the gym once. Take heed! Thereare multiple benefits to keeping fit throughout the holidays—for both mentaland physical reasons. You’ll also be thanking yourself when January 1st rollsaround and it’s time to “get back on track.” So many people promise themselvesthroughout Christmas parties, happy hours, and time spent on the family couch.
Here are just a few reasons to consider keeping your workout routine in check even as you enjoy holiday goodies and a little time off work.
• Mood elevation. As you may know, exercise affects your brainchemistry. It’s been touted as a cure for many ailments, including depression and anxiety. In fact, if you view a photo of the brain before and after exercise, it looks vastlydifferent. Stave off the winter blues by working up a sweat regularly.
• New Experiences. Working out in the winter can lead you to the stairclimberat the gym every day. Or, you can explore the outdoors and experience a newkind thrill by breathing in the cold air. There’s something very refreshingabout layering up and running outdoors or losing yourself in calorie burning bysledding, skiing, or ice skating. Whether you know it or not, this contributesto keeping in shape and bringing fulfilling life experiences into play.
• Stave off Stress. The holidays are one of the most stressful times of the year, and themost effective way to battle that is to be active. Many people are staying withfamily for extended periods of time or have family staying in their own homes.It’s priceless to have an escape route planned that few people can blame youfor. Getting your heart rate up and clearing your mind—followed by a hot shower—willmake you feel like a new person, ready to take on whatever holiday snafu popsup later.
• Body Confusion. When you go from lots of activity to noneyour body may be confused by your actions. There’s a chemical conversation going on inside your body and abruptlychanging the flow can be detrimental to how you react and respond to othersituations. Even if you don’t keep your workouts intense, the routine isimportant to keeping your maintaining function at its best capacity.
• Keep Your Eating in Check. The other bigtemptation during the holiday is—of course—lots of high-calorie, rich,delicious food. There’s nothing wrong with indulging a little but it can easilyget out of hand. One way to counteract the calories—and keep from wanting to eat the whole pie—is to exercise. Whenyou feel good, you don’t want to fill your body with less than wholesomegoodies. Additionally, by exercising regularly, you can have your favoriteholiday snacks without worrying about gaining a lot of weight.
Have I convinced you not to throw your exerciseroutine to the wolves this holiday season? If you want to get through theholidays feeling and looking great—andcome out on the other end the same way—consider scheduling regular exercise no matter where you are. You’ll thank yourself later!
Ericka Andersen is a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer and a freelance writer working in politics, policy and social media. In her spare time, she writes about fitness on her blog, The Sweet Life.