Healthy Living

Get up and fall into fitness

The clocks are turned back an hour and even those of us below the Mason-Dixon line are beginning to feel a little crispness in the air. Now that the dog days of summer are well and truly behind us, it’s the perfect time to turn up the heat on your fitness regime.

Here are three good reasons:

  1. Prevent holiday weight gain. About 75% of annual weight gain takes place during the holiday season. Whether you have your eye on a slinky new number for New Year’s Eve or just want to avoid being confused with a certain jolly man in red, regular exercise is essential to maintaining (or losing) weight.
  1. Combat holiday stress. Combine extra shopping and errands, travel, entertaining and the year-end push at work, and you’ve got a recipe for a meltdown — and not the yummy chocolate kind. Exercise boosts endorphins that help combat stress and improves your mood.
  1. Avoid being SAD. Seasonal affective disorder, also called SAD, is a kind of depression that follows the seasons — most commonly winter. Lack of sunlight is a major culprit, so getting outside during daylight hours can help. Bonus: Your body produces vitamin D when sunlight hits your skin. Vitamin D is naturally present in very few foods, and the sun is, well, free.

So, turn put down the remote control, get off the couch and get moving. Even a little exercise is better than none. Try these fun ways to move your fitness in a higher gear and keep it there during the holidays and beyond.

  • Walk during your work break. A 10-minute walk even twice a week can improve your fitness.
  • Try a new class. Release your inner Zumba queen or sign up for a “boot camp” course.
  • Register for a race. Having a goal adds focus to your workouts.
  • Make it a family outing. Get out the bikes, head to the bowling alley or lace up a pair of skates at the local roller or ice rink.
  • Join a team. Group sports such as volleyball and softball combine exercise and social interaction. Check the Y or your local recreation center for leagues. If your workplace doesn’t have a team, start one.
  • Learn a new skill. Karate isn’t just for kids. Wax on!
  • Get footloose. Most dance studios offer adult ballet, tap and jazz classes. Tutus optional.
  • Climb the walls. Most major metropolitan areas now have indoor climbing gyms. Rock climbing is even going to be an Olympic sport in 2020.

Whether you make it your peaceful time to regroup or a chance to connect with friends and family, the point is to make exercise fun, says Shelly Mamo, exercise specialist at Colonial Life.

“You’re much more likely to stick with your exercise program if it’s something you enjoy rather than a chore. And who needs another chore this time of year?”

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