It's Christmas next week, and the festive season is already in full swing. As we spend this busy period eating, drinking, seeing family, heading away on holidays, etc., it's important to keep in mind the benefits of staying active where possible.
"For some of us, exercise is already a staple part of our routine. However, for most Australians, keeping physically active at Christmas time can fall to the bottom of the ever-growing to-do list," says Anita Hobson-Powell, Chief Executive Officer of Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA).
Research shows that Christmas is the time of year you're most likely to put on weight, with the holidays commonly associated with a weight gain of up to 0.4kg, so it's important to accompany the extra indulgence with physical activity and movement.
"The great news is, you don't need to force yourself to head to a gym or sign up for a marathon (unless you want to!), any form of physical activity that gets your heart pumping is going to help. Whether it be backyard cricket with the family or taking the dog for a walk, it all makes a difference."
We all know physical activity is beneficial and helps to control our weight, keep our heart healthy, improve our muscle and bone strength and much more, and the best gift you can give yourself and your family at Christmas time is a healthy version of you.
There are also a range of others benefits that are exclusively helpful during the festive season:
• Improve poor mental health. Christmas can have a negative impact on our mood due to the added stress. The great news is that just an hour of exercise a week can help. Whether it's morning walks or heading out for a bike ride, it's all going to improve your mental health as well as your physical well-being.
• A chance for "you time". This time of the year offers a great opportunity to wind down and reflect but all of the festive craziness can hinder this. Exercising gives you the chance to take some time out from all of this to focus on you!
• Getting more incidental exercise. Christmas time usually includes multiple trips to the supermarket and shopping centres. As you're racing around, just think of all the incidental exercise you're getting in by increasing your step count. Every little bit counts.
• Great way to get the family involved. Who can say no to a friendly game of cricket? Not only does it encourage the family to get active, it's a great chance to get the family laughing and having fun too.
For the majority of Australia, this time of the year is also one of the hottest, so it's important to stay hydrated especially when undertaking any physical activity. A "cool" tip is to try exercising indoors to prevent any heat-related side effects or get in a few laps at the local swimming pool or beach.
Sometimes we need an extra hand when it comes to exercise, whether it be because you have a health condition or you're not sure where to really start. Getting in touch with a suitably qualified exercise expert can help make things easier.
Find a local accredited exercise professional by using the ESSA Search Function: www.essa.org.au/find-aep