By Gina Cousineau and Samantha Blankenburg
With Halloween behind us and Thanksgiving and Christmas quickly approaching, the opportunity to be surrounded by your community of family and friends is here.
With the abundance of holiday sweets and uncalculated meals, I want to remind you that your goal is not to “lose weight,” but “maintain your weight” during this chaotic season.
When the house is full of visitors, this gives you the perfect opportunity—rather than the excuse not to exercise—to have them keep you company and allow them to participate in your fitness with you.
Here is your chance to model healthy habits during this holiday season, as well as take the lead role of event coordinator and motivator. Participating in a more active lifestyle can aid in your hopes of creating some everlasting memories, and maybe provide that nudge that your loved ones need to join you.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that we participate in four different types of exercise, including endurance/aerobic exercise, strength, balance, and flexibility. The thought of preparing an exercise regimen that is productive and doable for each individual in your inner circle may seem like a daunting task, so let’s keep it simple.
Following the recommendations from the AHA, these guidelines will let us formulate a game plan that will benefit and allow everyone to partake in these healthy festivities this holiday season.
A few recommendations for adults from AHA (shared from heart.org):
- Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week.
- Add moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) on at least two days per week.
- Spend less time sitting. Even light-intensity activity can offset some of the risks of being sedentary.
- Gain even more benefits by being active at least 300 minutes (five hours) per week.
- Increase amount and intensity gradually over time.
Using the recommendations from the AHA, here are some suggestions that you can encourage your family to participate in over this holiday season:
- Take a 30-minute leisurely walk after a meal. Instead of immediately hitting the couch with loosened belt buckles to watch football and wait for dessert and coffee, pause the game and encourage the group to get outside and stroll around your neighborhood to enjoy the holiday lights/decorations together.
- Host a mid-morning hike or beach walk. Here is the trick with this: set the time, location and estimated duration of the activity and encourage all to participate. “Hey, Uncle Julian, we are planning on walking the beach trail this Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Meet us at North Beach, and don’t forget to bring a water bottle. We will be down there about an hour and half. Everyone can walk at their own pace.” The more people who attend, the better!
- Host a game. If you have kiddos in your family, this is a great way for them to bond with uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. Frisbee, kickball, baseball, football—anything is up for grabs.
This year could be the year that you establish new traditions. If these traditions include physical activity, then you are providing your family with the gift of wonderful memories, as well as the everlasting gift of health.
(Nutrition and Exercise Liability Disclaimer: Please talk to your medical provider before starting a nutrition or exercise routine.)
Samantha Blankenburg received her BS in Sports Medicine with a concentration in athletic training from the University of Southern Maine. This discipline, along with her experience as a fitness professional for 10 years, has developed her training technique, which focuses on understanding and preventing injury. Samm is the owner of Everyday Athlete LLC and sees clients in her San Clemente studio, as well as virtually. She also co-owns Mama G’s Lifestyle with culinary nutritionist Gina Cousineau, offering in-person and virtual nutrition, fitness and lifestyle consulting. She welcomes your comments at mamagslifestyle.com. You can learn more about them through their podcast “Calling Their Bull” and on Instagram @MamaGsLifestyle.