The winter holidays are a busy time, filled with parties, celebrations, and food, as well as a fair amount of sedentary behavior. As you start making your list of parties to attend and presents to buy, add another item to your list: exercise. And you can get started on that right now.
“It’s a great idea to begin exercising and engaging in regular physical activity before the holiday season starts,” says Tyler Waclawski, employee well-being manager for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. “Having a healthy activity as part of your routine before things get too hectic will increase your chance of staying healthy through the holidays and beyond.”
Why it is important to exercise
Tyler Waclawski: Exercise is a key part of a healthy life. Everyone needs a certain amount of physical activity. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, most adults should get 150-300 minutes of moderately-intense physical activity every week. That translates to about 20-45 minutes of brisk walking or other aerobic exercise. You should also incorporate some muscle-strengthening exercises 2 days per week.
You’ll experience so many benefits from getting some regular exercise, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exercise can help you:
- Manage your weight
- Improve your brain health
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve your mood
- Fight off disease
- Reduce your risk of certain chronic illnesses
- Improve your ability to do everyday activities
How to increase your activity level before the holidays
Tyler Waclawski: If you’re ready to start moving, here are some strategies to help you:
- Plan ahead. You put dentist appointments, work meetings and family events on your calendar? Be sure to schedule time for exercise.
- Choose an activity that’s easy to start. Simple activities like walking, hiking, or bodyweight exercises are a great way to get started and build a healthy foundation. Plus, they don’t require any special equipment or memberships, so you can do them almost anywhere.
- Schedule a short workout. It’s a common misconception that you need a gym membership or a long workout session to experience the benefits of exercise. Short walks or bike rides can accomplish more than you might realize. Eventually, you might even try doing two short workouts in a day to increase your physical activity.
- Pick a fun seasonal activity. You don’t always have to do a formal exercise routine to get some movement. Hiking, apple picking, and other seasonal activities can be a great way to get some exercise.
- Rake leaves. It’s not as much fun as some activities, but for many of us, raking leaves is a seasonal necessity. It can also be good aerobic exercise.
- Try something new. If you’ve always wanted to try tap dancing or kickboxing, go for it! It may be easier for you to make the time to exercise if you’re excited about the activity.
- Reward yourself. Once you set an exercise goal, break it down into smaller chunks. Then reward yourself along the way. Giving yourself positive feedback can help keep you motivated.
If you can get into a routine, it will be easier to stick with it.
Keep the momentum going
Tyler Waclawski: Once you get going, you want to keep going. The best way to keep your momentum is to focus on a goal that’s obtainable for you. The holiday season is busy, so be realistic with your goal. Allow yourself some flexibility—and some grace. It’s okay if you miss a workout to spend time with family and friends and a holiday gathering. Just do your best to bounce back the next day with your goal.
“As you enjoy the holiday season, remember that adding movement will help you feel stronger as you begin the new year,” Waclawski says.
Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.