LSU Health New Orleans Newsroom

9 Ways to Get Moving this Holiday Season

Why Now Isn't the Time to Skip Exercise

Holiday exercise

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Leslie Capo

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Even though demands on our time grow dramatically at this time of year, now is not the time to skip regular exercise cautions Melinda Sothern, PhD, CEP, Professor and Jim Finks Endowed Chair in Health Promotion at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health. Even just a short break can have surprising impact.

“Muscle building declines within six hours,” notes Dr. Sothern. “Strength is reduced 3-4% per day as is the ability to burn fat. And muscle glycogen stores ( the primary fuel your muscles need to produce energy) are reduced by 40% after four weeks – just about the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.”

And what about all that extra stress? Exercise is an excellent stress buster. It ramps up the production of endorphins, responsible for the so-called runners’ high. It reduces stress hormones and tension, as well as anxiety and depression. Physical activity also elevates mood and improves the body’s communication.

And it needn’t take extra time.

“You can exercise at your desk –try chair yoga, or stand up or pace while you’re talking on the phone,” says Sothern. “Drinking a lot of water throughout the day will make you get up from your desk to go get rid of it, so not only do you stay hydrated, but active. And try dancing through commercials when you’re watching tv.”

You can sneak in more movement if you park father away from the entrance to your office building, or a store in a shopping mall. And take the stairs or the long way to a meeting.

Dr. Melinda Sothern
After work, taking a long walk with your dog not only tires out your four-legged friend, it racks up steps on your fitness tracker.
walking the dog
“So this season, take steps to stay active,” Sothern advises. “Not only will you feel better and enjoy the holidays more, but you just might not need to make the number one and number two New Year’s resolutions – to get fit and lose weight!"