Thu | Feb 2, 2023

Commit to staying fit during the holidays

Published:Wednesday | December 14, 2022 | 1:06 AMKeisha Hill - Senior Gleaner Writer
 Exercise is a perfect way to work up a sweat and release endorphins (good energy).
Exercise is a perfect way to work up a sweat and release endorphins (good energy).
Dr Michael Banbury
Dr Michael Banbury

During the holiday season, the already challenging endeavour of making time for fitness becomes even more difficult. From Thanksgiving through Christmas and into the new year, it is very easy to overindulge in holiday goodies and neglect one’s fitness goals. By the time the new year rolls around, many of us feel bloated and are out of shape.

It does not have to be like that. There are some simple things you can do to maintain your fitness and still enjoy the holiday cheer. According to Dr Michael Banbury, former chief executive officer of the Medical Associates Hospital, the holidays is the hardest period to stay fit and healthy.

“The social calendar becomes overbooked with events extending throughout the new year, while the indulgence in excess alcohol, sorrel, and Christmas cakes begin to pile up. The importance of maintaining a physically active life is echoed most during this season because there tends to be a pause in the physical fitness of many,” Dr Banbury said.

He says exercise should be non-negotiable. “Many people tend to pause their fitness goals in favour of holiday preparation. While you want to enjoy the season’s celebrations, it is ideal not to stop; however, if you do decide to take a break, restart right after the celebrations have ended,” he said.

Maintaining a consistent exercise schedule, he said, allows you to keep up with your goals heading into the new year. “While remembering that there is a reason for the season, it is imperative to remember the importance of a healthy mind and body.”

A specialist in internal medicine and diabetes, Dr Banbury says, “Children and adults alike are encouraged to keep active, eat in moderate portions, drink a lot of water, and set aside a minimum of 15 minutes daily, to prevent the chances of developing life-threatening diseases, such as diabetes.”

Simple practices he said like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking in a space further away from the door or trying to move around after eating versus sitting at your desk, all help to burn calories and reduce belly fat.

“The recommendation is for at least 30 minutes, five days weekly, consisting of moderately intense exercise. They also recommend resistance training at least twice weekly. Activities such as brisk walking, jogging, and cycling are considered moderately intense exercises,” Dr Banbury said.

“It is not a rule to complete all 30 minutes in a one-time span. You can break up your exercise into three ten-minute sessions throughout the day, thus making it easier to meet your daily objectives, while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” he added.

Other tips he said include eating a well-balanced, low-fat diet with lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, getting good sleep and avoid alcohol and smoking.


• Schedule time to work out. Let’s be honest, the holiday season is very busy. Just as you would schedule time for a meeting at work or holiday shopping, when you make time on your calendar for exercise, it’s more likely to happen. Review your week ahead and figure out the most practical times to exercise, such as in the morning before the day gets away from you.

• Find creative ways to be active. There are ways to squeeze in fitness that don’t have to be a traditional workout. When holiday shopping, park a bit farther away from the mall so you are forced to walk more. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Build physical activity into your holiday traditions.

• Squeeze in some activity, it’s better than none. If you can’t find time to hit the gym, don’t skip exercising altogether. A quick workout is better than no workout. Try to incorporate even just 10 minutes of physical activity a day. High-intensity interval training is a great way to get in a quick and effective workout.

• Work out with a friend. Staying motivated is one of the hardest parts about committing to fitness, around the holidays. Putting it off to another day is easy when it’s just you. If you get a friend involved in your fitness process it can help you stick with it. Take a fitness class together, go for a brisk walk, just move.

• Hydrate and eat sensibly. Eating well is part of staying fit. You don’t have to abstain completely from your favourite seasonal treats, just watch your portion sizes. Try to sneak in vegetables when and where you can. Drink plenty of water, especially alongside alcohol. Eat something small before you head to that holiday party so you won’t arrive on an empty stomach and make bad choices.

• Set goals, track your progress and have rewards. Thanks to advancements in technology, including fitness trackers and calorie counters, keeping track of your progress is easier than ever. Setting goals and challenges, along with a reward system, will hold you accountable and ensure your fitness success.