Heartland’s hints for a healthier holiday season

Written by by Jim Berger. Posted in December

The holiday season is upon us. It’s a time when we are busy decorating, shopping, baking, and attending holiday functions. We have little time for anything extra in our day. We also have to deal with the potential for wintry weather. It is a special time of year and one that many of us enjoy—but it’s also a time when many of us tend to abandon our healthy habits. We don’t eat as healthy as we should, and we skip out on the exercise regime that we had been following. As a result, our stress level meter is in the red zone.


Every year we say we are going to do things differently, but it doesn’t seem to happen. So this year let’s change all that. By making small modifications to our holiday habits, it’s easy to stay healthy and still enjoy the season despite the hustle, bustle, and stress.

Here are eight hints that might help:

1. Plan, plan, plan, and don’t over-

2. Select he healthier food choices when you’re out to dinner or at a party. If you know that may not be an option, then eat beforehand and limit your snacking at the event.

3. Don’t skip meals—including breakfast. People who eat breakfast consume fewer calories throughout the day than those who skip this important meal.

4. Monitor your hunger. Never show up at a party or buffet really hungry—you will most certainly overeat. Drink water and have a protein-filled snack (such as nuts or cheese) before arriving. This will help you to have more self-control around the temptation.

5. Watch your portion size. If you have an idea of how much food you are putting on your plate, you will be less likely to overdo it.

6. Stay hydrated by drinking more water than anything else.

7. Exercise: “Sneak” exercise into your day. If you already have an established exercise regimen, keep it up and you’ll make it through the holidays without compromising your fitness. Remember, several short periods of physical exertion worked in throughout the day are just as beneficial to your health as one long, continuous period of activity. Consider trying the following:

  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Parking at the far end of the parking lot to get in extra steps.
  • Walking down every aisle of the store whether you need something there or not.
  • Walking in place or on a treadmill or doing some stretches while watching your favorite holiday TV shows.
  • Walking around the inside of your house while talking on the phone.
  • Getting up from your desk every half hour and walking a lap around the office at work.
  • Putting on some music and dancing if you can find a little alone time!
  • Doing simple body weight exercises at home or at work: squats, lunges, pull and push movements.

Of course, these are just suggestions. No doubt, you’ll be able to think of many different ways to work simple exercises into your day. Moving burns more calories than sitting, so the more active you are, the more calories you’ll burn. You need both exercise and a healthy diet to maintain over the holiday season. Don’t neglect either one!

8. Sleep: During the holiday season, we seldom get enough sleep. Sleep plays a very important role in our health. The greater the fatigue and stress, the more likely we are to grab unhealthy sweets and snacks to give us energy. Try to plan your schedule so you can get eight hours of sleep a night.

The holidays shouldn’t hurt!

During this time of year, we are also a little more prone to injury due to weather, hustling around, and not paying attention. Injuries that we typically see are related to falls outside (ice and snow), back/shoulder injuries due to picking up and carrying larger and heavier boxes or items, snow shoveling using improper technique, working in the same position for extended periods of time while baking or wrapping gifts, as well as not maintaining good posture or taking breaks.

When you have an injury or an ache/pain that lasts for a few days and doesn’t appear to be getting better, don’t wait any longer. Go seek help! You may think about trying to get in to see your primary care provider, but you may not be able to get an appointment until the New Year.

A more effective solution to those aches and pains is to see a physical therapist. Therapy will not only address the pain issue or injury, but the therapist will also review with you proper body mechanics and movement so you can avoid injury in the future. In many cases you can schedule an appointment for therapy without seeing your primary care provider first. This is known as direct access to therapy, and Ohio and Michigan are states that allow this.

Heartland outpatient physical therapists understand what you are dealing with. Our team of physical therapists will establish a plan specific to you. Our focus is on making sure you stay involved in all your favorite holiday activities. Let our therapy team of experts help to keep you active and moving during this holiday season!❦