Do you want to be one of those people who step on a scale in early January to realize that they have gained 5-10 pounds? In our last blog we already discussed how to improve your eating style by enjoying the special holiday meals, but really trying to eat more vegetables and fruits in all of your other meals. The other component is your exercise. If you have any vacation time, I have a simple recommendation for the holiday season. Just try to add an extra walk (or any second exercise like riding a bicycle) for each day that you do not have to work.
Walking, as we have discussed, is a wonderful exercise. Remember Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the physician who trained the early astronauts? He recommended 10,000 steps a day for maintaining adequate physical health. Well, I am going to suggest 30 minutes of walking on a daily basis – and a second walk if you have the vacation time. If you can walk 30 minutes a day, you will be reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes by around 50 percent. You will also be lowering your blood pressure for the next 24 hours, plus reducing your risk for a cold. Walking will burn off calories, leading to a lost of weight of 11-18 pounds over a full year. But during the holiday season? It will lead to an increased metabolic rate, burning of some of those holiday calories.
Do you know what exercise is also really good for you? It’s something too many of us baby boomers fail to do. It’s high-intensity exercise or simply lifting some weights (or exercising against some resistance). Why is this type of exercise so important? Because, as we grow older, we lose muscle mass. More importantly, our muscle mass is directly related to our bone density. We need to maintain both our muscle mass and bone density if we want to reduce our risk of falls and fractures. There are other advantages. Muscle is important for maintaining your blood sugar. How? Because it can store glycogen (sugar). Where would you prefer your sugar be deposited? In your fat cells or in your muscle?
So, even if you have never lifted a bar bell in your life, it is something worth doing as you grow older. It is also not that difficult. If you have access to the Internet, just search Google for a high-intensity exercise program. They have those programs for all age groups. If you prefer to try something simpler, just purchase a 5 pound or 10 pound barbell. Just try a series of 8-10 lifts, utilizing different muscle groups. And it does not have to be done daily. In fact, it is preferable if you perform high-intensity exercise just 2-3 times a week, perhaps for as little as 5-10 minutes. But it will help maintain your health. It too will burn off those holiday calories. It will also protect from additional illnesses. It’s a win-win for any baby boomer.
Here is my holiday suggestion, which you should start in the Thanksgiving week. Follow the eating suggestions of the previous blog (enjoying your celebratory meals but watching your eating style on all of your other meals) and add daily aerobic exercise, plus twice weekly high-intensity exercise. If possible, try to engage your whole family in the program. You will be improving your physical health and possibly enhancing your relationship with other members of your family. When January rolls around, you may discover that you will not have gained that typical 5-10 pounds. You may discover that you are better protected against the flu, which is crucial for anyone who might be at risk for developing pneumonia. You may even discover closes ties within the family. My real suggestion? If you start these suggestions right now, by January, they should be habits. If you keep these habits going throughout this next year, your overall physical health should improve, as well as your emotional well being. Make this holiday season great. Make next year your healthiest. As previously stated, wouldn’t that be a great Christmas present for you could give to yourself? Or give to your children? Increased happiness and better health?