Tips to help 'battle bulge,' enjoy holidays

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Leticia Hopkins
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
After carving the turkey, digging into the stuffing, and heaps of mashed potatoes and devouring numerous slices of pumpkin pie, the thought of working out during the holidays can be rough.

"The holiday season is a time for weight management," said LaTonya Cornell, 23rd Medical Group Health and Wellness Center's exercise physiologist. "It's harder to maintain weight over the holidays because there are so many tempting foods."

Americans tend to link celebrations with food, so during the holidays, weight loss rates can be slower or people can gain weight due to consuming more food than the calories expended, she added.

Some reasons people may not work out as much during the holidays are because they are busy with the holiday bustle, they're not near a gym or traveling to other places. While that can put a dent in a normal work-out routine, it doesn't mean people have to put off working out all together. Instead, unconventional workouts can be tailored to travel plans, and it can be possible to keep off those extra, unwanted pounds, Ms. Cornell said.

People, who may not have direct access to a gym during the holidays or aren't feeling as motivated as they are normally, can do various outdoor activities to help keep them active, said Ms. Cornell. These activities include: shoveling snow, skiing or sledding if you're in a region with snow. People can also chop wood, go hiking or even window shop.

"The key is to find an activity you like or enjoy and find ways to apply it there," she added. "Doing activities that involve your kids is also a good way to workout."

Another common exercise people can do over the holiday season is walking. People should try to walk 30 minutes every day but if that is not possible, three to four times a week is also good, added the exercise physiologist.

"You can burn 288 calories per hour if you walk a 17-minute mile," said Ms. Cornell. "(Keep in mind that) any activity allowing you to use your own body weight, such as jump rope, jumping jacks, knee lifts, push-ups, fit ball and abdominal exercises (are beneficial to the body). Multi-group exercises are a new trend because they are able to target many muscles at one time."

There are three exercise categories: cardiovascular, strength and flexibility.

"(It is important to maintain a balance because) they all feed off of each other," said Ms. Cornell. "You can't have muscular strength without cardiovascular exercises and flexibility."

Cardiovascular exercises maintain an increased heart rate while exercising at a moderate intensity level over an extended period. These exercises burn fat and help to reduce cardiovascular problems.

Strength training exercises help strengthen and develop muscles. It can provide greater muscular strength, improved muscle tone and appearance, increased endurance, enhanced bone density and improved cardiovascular fitness.

Flexibility allows joints to have a larger range of movement through the ability to stretch muscles, tendons and ligaments. Increasing flexibility can help cut down on injuries when engaging in physical activities.

While knowing what exercises are available for holiday workouts, the hard part can be actually performing them.

There isn't an easy way to get motivated over the holidays, said Ms. Cornell, however, there are several things people can do to help push toward a goal. Tips include:

- Work out in the morning.

- Add it to your to-do list.

- Give it the same importance as your errands.

- Find what is fun and try to make it into a physical activity.