health festive season

5 tips for managing your health this festive season

Christmas and New Year’s celebrations are a fantastic time of year! That said, it can also be challenging to maintain your health over the festive season. In this blog, Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Hayden Kelly, gives us his top tips for balancing health and enjoyment during the “silly season”.

Prioritising your health is still important!

Despite the celebration and festivities, the stress that comes with the season can seem to be somewhat unavoidable. Whilst maintaining healthy habits may seem difficult over this period, it’s important to recognise the value of good nutrition, sleep and physical activity in ensuring you are reinvigorated, refreshed and ready to tackle 2022. Here are some tips for staying healthy over the next few weeks:

1. Start by walking more

Walking is a great way to get some extra movement into your life. Research has shown walking is the most common type of exercise adopted when adults are encouraged to do more physical activity into their lives. It’s also the most likely to be sustained in contrast to other exercise programs because it’s often used as an active means of commuting.

Some of the benefits that can be achieved from simply walking for 10-30 minutes 3 days per week include:

  • improved sleep
  • better cardiorespiratory fitness
  • stress relief
  • improved mood
  • increased energy and stamina
  • reduced fatigue.

The Heart Foundation offers some great resources to help you start walking more. You can search for walking groups within your area or sign up for an individualised walking plan.

2. Move regularly – even if just for a couple of minutes

Your exercise routine will probably look different over this time of year, and that’s okay! Remember, something is better than nothing. Whether it’s a simple walk around the block Christmas morning, a surf or swim at the local ocean pool, it all counts. Physical activity is important not only for your physical fitness, but also your mental health.

Research shows that people who do just 2 minutes of low to moderate intensity walking every 20 minutes see a 24-30% reduction their blood glucose levels after eating (compared to those who remain sedentary). All the more reason to break up Christmas lunch with some backyard cricket!

3. Eat well and enjoy your food

It’s okay to indulge in some of the things you love most over the Christmas period. If that means some Christmas pudding or homemade trifle, let your hair down! You deserve a break. However, remember to moderate your intake. If you intend to drink alcohol during Christmas, remember to stay well hydrated and limit your intake. Every gram of alcohol contains 7 calories, which is comparable to 9 calories per gram of dietary fat. If you’re someone that enjoys a drink, remember alcohol is quite energy dense!

4. Look after your mental health

Mental wellbeing is often a challenging subject and while this is a fantastic time of year, it can also be a tough time for many Australians. While being more physically active and eating well can definitely help your mental health, it’s important to know that it’s also okay to ask for help. If you feel you would benefit with counselling from a trained expert, Beyond Blue provides free services from counsellors available 24 hours, 7 days per week. To get in touch call 1300 22 4636.

5. It’s all about balance

It’s been a BIG year, and we ALL deserve to unwind a bit and enjoy this magical festive season. You can definitely enjoy the things you love while taking care of your physical and mental health. It’s all about balance!

Have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Written by Hayden Kelly. Hayden is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Diabetes NSW and ACT.