Is Getting in Shape on Your 2012 Christmas Wish List?

You may think the holiday season is one of the most difficult times of the year to get into shape. From the eggnog and baked ham to pies and spirits, the end of the year is a time marked with festive parties and more opportunities to indulge. Despite media reports declaring that the average American gains between 5 to 10 pounds, new research shows seasonal weight gain is quite modest. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, in reality we may only gain a pound. So if you’ve been putting off going to the gym because you think you’re efforts will be in vain, think again.

Get a Jump on New Year’s Resolutions – Why not start the New Year ahead of the game? If you continue your normal exercise routine (or even bump it up a bit), you’ll be on track to start your New Year’s Resolution with confidence. Instead of feeling like you need to go from not working out at all to five days a week, maintaining a consistent exercise regimen allows to you focus on taking it to that next level. Try a challenging new exercise class or set a goal to increase the intensity of your workouts, to break though fitness and weight loss plateaus.

Burn Off Seasonal Stress – It is easy to get stressed during the holidays and we often feel we don’t have enough time for all the errands, activities and obligations, let alone time for exercise. However, exercise can not only help clear your mind, but help you reduce the stress hormones in your system and boost your immunity. Schedule at least 30 minutes, three to five times a week to exercise. The endorphins from your workout will leave you energized and refreshed to tackle the rest of your holiday to-do list.

Improve the Quality of Your Sleep – Researchers have found maintaining regular exercise can not only help you sleep longer, but better. Quality sleep not only helps you wake rested and ready to take on the busy season, it also improves your overall health in several specific ways. Getting seven to eight hours of quality sleep every night can help immunizations work better, decrease your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and obesity, as well as improve your brain health. And now that you’re more rested, you’re less likely to say you’re too tired to go to the gym, right?

Maintain or Improve Endurance – Cardiovascular endurance functions much like a muscle. If you continue to build and maintain that muscle on a regular basis, it will atrophy at a slower rate during breaks or interruptions of exercise. The converse is true if you take the opportunity during the holiday season to continue to strengthen your cardiovascular endurance instead of taking a complete break. Not only will it help make exercise easier, it also will make it more enjoyable.

Getting, or staying, in shape during the holidays is possible if you make it a priority. As previously mentioned, we tend to gain only a pound during the season. But the fact is, most of us never end up losing that pound once the new year arrives. Adults gain an average of one to two pounds a year. Don’t let a winter wonderland be an excuse to cut back on exercise or drop it altogether. The benefits of exercise feed upon themselves, giving you more energy and better health to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the holidays!

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