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It’s hard to keep a regular schedule or healthy habits during this week between Christmas and New Year. Perhaps you’re staying with friends and or family or you have others at your house. Maybe it’s a short work week or you’re on vacation. There are just so many activities that change your routine.
For many, one thing that really gets lost during this time of year is a fitness or exercise program. But you probably need it more now than ever. Lots of holiday gatherings and food events may have you eating more than usual and movement can help you “burn” some of those extra calories. Movement can also help to cope with the holiday stress.
Even if your regular class or the gym or pool is closed this week, do as much as you can right now to fit movement into your day. Just because one day doesn’t go as well, don’t give up for the rest of the week. If you don’t have time for a 30-minute workout, try for 10 minutes three times a day. Some physical activity is better than none.
Lynn Grieger in the Food and Health Communications Newsletter suggests instead of thinking about exercise as something time-consuming, think of it as a time to have fun, play, and laugh. Put on your favorite music and dance, get the Frisbee or balls, play with the kids or grandkids, meet a friend for a walk instead of coffee or lunch.
Maybe you don’t have a fitness routine right now and are thinking… in the
New Year. There are so many health benefits to moving more. Regular fitness over months and years can produce long-term health benefits. Physical activity can help us feel better, function better, sleep better and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. Health benefits start immediately after exercising. So why wait till next week?
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans provide science-based guidance to encourage Americans to improve health through appropriate physical activity. They recommend adults engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity OR 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week.
Moderate-intensity activities make your heart beat a little faster than normal. These include brisk walking, general gardening, ballroom dancing, and water aerobics. Vigorous-intensity activities, like running or hiking uphill, elevate your heart rate even further. We can meet this recommendation through a variety of activities. The goal is to find activities you enjoy.
Another important thing to remember is that adults should do muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week. Something to make your muscles work harder than usual. This may sound like a lot… especially if you aren’t doing anything right now.
The Guidelines stress people should just move more and be as physically active as possible. Even five minutes more of physical activity than what you’re doing now has real health benefits.
Increase physical activity gradually over time to meet key guidelines or health goals. Inactive people should “start low and go slow” by starting with lower intensity activities and gradually increasing how often and how long activities are done.
The key point: move more.
The N.C. Cooperative Extension has several resources that can help you with this goal. Check out our Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less program and
blog. Locally, here in Brunswick County, our staff offers a program called LIFT (Lifelong Improvements for Fitness Together). This is a group-based strength training program that meets twice a week. If you or your organization are interested in joining or hosting this program in the New Year, reach out to Meghan Lassiter or Rachel Bland at our office.
Cheryle Syracuse wrote this article and more similar ones for the Family and Consumer Sciences Column in the Brunswick Beacon. Syracuse is an FCS team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, 910-253-2610 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.