Exercising Around Holiday Feasts: How to Keep the Bulge at Bay

Exercising Around Holiday Feasts

“The holidays are fast approaching and that means family gatherings, parties with friends and great food and drink – all of which can contribute to adding some unhealthy pounds over a short period of time,” says Susan Irrgang, RN, LNHA, Executive Director at Saunders House in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.

“Registered dietitians tell us that moderation is the key during the holidays. But if your sweet tooth and your love of holiday feasts are more than your willpower can handle, there is another helpful solution – exercise!”

Exercise: Your Holiday Prescription for Preventing Unwanted Pounds

Senior health experts say the ideal approach to the holiday season is to strike a balance between diet and exercise. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a slice of pecan pie or home-baked chocolate chip cookies over the holidays, but it is important to keep track of your calories and have sufficient exercise to keep off unhealthy weight gain.

Exercise Tips for the Holidays

The article, “Exercise and Fitness for Seniors” by Deborah Elbaum, MD, offers useful tips for exercises you can do during the holidays that are beneficial to seniors. To the extent possible, four different types of activities should be incorporated into your holiday exercise regimen, as they provide different fitness benefits. These include:

  • Endurance exercises increase the heart rate and breathing. Including walking, jogging or dancing, they help improve the cardiovascular system. 

    After your holiday meal, try taking a walk with family and friends. If it isn’t safe to exercise outside during the holidays, go to the mall and walk around. Exercise will also get you moving, keep you focused on your goals, and give you a welcomed break from being surrounded by treats. Exercise is also a great way to lower your blood sugar levels.
  • Strength exercise such as weight training can help build up muscles and reduce age-related muscle loss while also keeping you fit. 
  • Stretching exercises help keep the body flexible and enable you to exercise more easily.
  • Balance exercises help improve balance and can reduce the risk of falls.

Senior exercise and fitness experts sayit’s best to work out for small amounts of time each day. Whether it’s walking or lifting weights, just doing a bit each day promotes physical fitness. Not only is this easier to commit to but it’s less draining.

Other Easy Ways to Get Your Exercise During the Holidays

If you have difficulty finding time to schedule an exercise program during the busy holidays, try incorporating exercise into your regular daily activities. For example: 

  • Try getting exercise while you do all the things you need to do. If you have to shop for groceries, walk around a little longer or park further away than you normally would. If you are carrying groceries inside from the car, instead of struggling to get everything in one trip, make multiple trips.
  • Any exercise is good exercise, no matter how long it’s for. If you want to keep holiday workouts short and sweet, it might be a good time to try interval exercises. These can include short bursts of walking, jumping jacks or even stationary biking. Alternating these short bursts of activity for 20 minutes can be as effective, if not more effective, than exercising at your normal steady rates. If that doesn’t work for you, try walking for 10 minutes at three different times throughout the day.
  • If you usually lift hand weights at the gym, find some heavy soup cans and do what you normally do! If you have stairs and it is safe for you to do so, walk up and down the stairs repeatedly. According to Reader's Digest®, vacuuming burns about 240 calories per hour. Clean your house and keep yourself healthy at the same time.

And if you enjoy baking, did you know that using a whisk can burn up to 140 calories per hour? Bake some dishes to take to your holiday parties and keep up your exercising at the same time. You are much less likely to skip your exercises while doing something you enjoy.

Susan adds, “By following these helpful exercise tips, you can keep yourself fit while still enjoying the wonderful tastes of the holiday season. And remember, if you’re exercising or just busy and on the go, be sure to stay hydrated. Senior adults require more fluids to stay healthy and energetic.”

We also invite you to stay current on senior health and senior care topics by viewing the latest articles and tips on our website.

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog on exercise and holiday feasts, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue. 

Today, Saunders House offers a range of services – including short-term rehabilitation, traditional nursing care, restorative care, memory care, respite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing. 

For more information on Saunders House, our Short-Term Rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 610.658.5100 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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