09 Dec How to enjoy the festive season without falling off the fitness wagon
While the festive season is a great time for spending with family and friends, it often results in endless parties, events and lots and lots of food. This can lead many of us to lose sight of the hard work we put it during the rest of the year and ‘fall of the wagon’.
Here are some tips to ensure you avoid falling of the wagon, while still enjoying the Christmas break.
- Eat small meals rather than a sit down feast
- Plan a ‘budget’ for eating and indulgences. Try and spread it out over all your events and treat yourself to one or two small things each time.
- Try walking to the shops or catching public transport when doing the Christmas shopping
- Engage family and friends in some fun activities such as backyard games, swimming and bushwalking
When going to a Christmas gathering, instead of sitting down to a large meal, try and spread your eating out with smaller portions over a number of hours. A study by Jenkins et al (1989), found that ‘nibbling’ throughout the day rather than sitting down to one large meal can reduce the chance of a spike in cholesterol and insulin levels.
Another way to offset the rise in insulin that often occurs with a Christmas binge, is the post meal walk. Going for a brisk walk after sitting down to Christmas lunch has several benefits in the removal of waste products from our body. Exercise increases the activity of enzymes in the body which service our muscles (Miyashita, Burns and Stensel, 2006). This allows fats or lipids ingested during the meal to be cleared and sent to our muscles to replace the fuel lost from exercise. It also results in reduced secretion of fat in the liver (Miyashita, Burns and Stensel, 2006).
Most of us are extremely busy over the Christmas period, and smaller, shorter and more intense bouts of exercise are also beneficial in improving insulin responses and clearance of fatty acids. Cutting your usual workout in half, but increasing the intensity to at least 70% of your maximal effort can be just as, if not more beneficial in warding of Christmas weight gain (Miyashita, Burns and Stensel, 2006).
Exercise Right’s top things to remember to survive the festive season
- You don’t have to let your year long routine fall by the wayside
- Use family events as an opportunity to get everyone involved in some activities e.g. backyard cricket, soccer, bushwalking
- During busy periods, reduce your workouts to approx. 20 minutes and increase the intensity
- Enjoy the Christmas season, but be mindful of spreading out meals and indulgences over the holiday period
- Use your time off to get out in nature e.g. start your day off with a brisk walk or swim
Miyashita, M., Burns, S. F., & Stengel, D. J. (2006). Exercise and postprandial lipemia: effect of continuous compared with intermittent activity patterns. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 83(1), 24-29.
Jenkins, D. J., Wolever, T. M., Vuksan, V., Brighenti, F., Cunnane, S. C., Rao, A. V., … & Josse, R. G. (1989). Nibbling versus gorging: metabolic advantages of increased meal frequency. New England Journal of Medicine, 321(14), 929-934.