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The holiday season means plenty of socialising and joy, but we do have a tendency to let our usual routines fall by the wayside. As much as we love the summertime festivities, they're often viewed as an excuse to overindulge and neglect our exercise routines, opting for food and wine instead of activity.
Recent research found that holiday weight gain is a worldwide phenomenon and that, perhaps more concerning, "people tend to retain about half of their holiday weight gain." So we've put together some useful tips to help you stay healthy during this tempting time.
A stroll through the neighbourhood, a jog on the beach or a cycle through town will provide stimulation to keep you going. Why not start Christmas morning off with a walk through your local park? Spending just an hour and a half in nature reduces negative thoughts, supporting positive mental health.
Chances are you and your mates will all get some time off for the holidays, so why not put it to good use? In addition to coffee dates and movie nights, meet your friend(s) for gym visits or other physical activities. Having someone who shares your goals and can offer support that will help keep you both on track.
Who doesn't love a good Christmas movie (or 10, preferably in a row)? But just because you're in the comfort of your living room doesn't mean you have to be idle. There are plenty of exercises to do in one place, including jumping jacks, crunches and squats. In some instances, 60 seconds of very strenuous activity may be as beneficial to your health as endurance training.
Dancing can be a fantastic form of cardio, so turn your boogie into a form of celebration. Let loose and rock around the Christmas tree to the best seasonal songs (we recommend Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas is You'). You'll get your workout in without even realising it.
It's not always easy to motivate yourself to exercise. A study by Cornell University found that enjoying your exercise will help you eat less afterwards. So, before you head to that big Christmas dinner, choose an activity you particularly like and get moving.
Christmas puddings and cakes, mince pies, cheese and lots of other rich foods are popular at this time of year. Delicious as they may be, they aren't the best when trying to stay fit. Avoid temptation by filling up on healthier options, such as white meat (turkey's good), salads and veggies. If you do indulge in fattier foods, be sure to limit your portion size.
Instead of stocking your cupboards with Christmas cookies, fill your fridge with healthier options that will give you the nourishment you need. Reach for snacks such as veggies and hummus, fruits or nuts (especially almonds) for a guilt-free pick-me-up.
There'll be no shortage of opportunities to enjoy a drink this season, but choose wisely and always drink responsibly. Consider spacing out your social activities and remember getting from Christmas to the New Year is a marathon not a sprint. Make sure you get to the finish line in one piece.
Thankfully, the wonderful world of technology has made keeping fit easier by offering an array of useful apps. Mobile health applications such as Daybreak by Hello Sunday Morning (which helps you navigate your relationship with alcohol), MyFitnessPal (which lets you easily track your calories) and Nike+ Training Club (which gives you plenty of customised workouts to try) could be particularly useful this season.
Setting goals has been shown to increase motivation and could be the key to transforming your health and fitness. Start 2017 off on a positive note and write down what it is that you want to accomplish – and then stick to it!
Follow these tips and you're sure to have a joyful and healthy festive season.