The researchers recommend that now, more than ever, people can and should benefit from the de-stressing and calorie-burning effects of exercise.
“Maintaining an exercise program during the holidays will help reduce extra stress and prevent weight gain,” said Jill Kanaley, MU professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. “Even if people can’t get to a gym because they’re traveling, walking 30-45 minutes per day will suffice. This recommendation also can be completed in three, 10-minute bouts of exercise. Maintaining this physical activity plan during the holidays will make it easier to get back into a normal exercise routine after the season, hopefully with no weight gain!”
The experts recommend setting daily activity goals ahead of time, especially for days that will include large meals and extra time socializing and snacking with friends and family. Avoiding physical activity throughout the holidays, even for a few days, can cause the pounds to pile on quickly.
“Make a conscious effort to plan ahead – for example, if you know that you’re going to have a big meal, schedule time for physical activity earlier in the day or the next day to compensate, and plan to eat lighter meals on the day before and the day after,” said John Thyfault, assistant professor in the department. “People tend to get in the habit of sitting all day at relatives’ houses and eating until they are stuffed and uncomfortable. It helps to mindfully plan for exercise to offset calories and reduce stress.”
Thyfault and Kanaley are researchers in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology – a joint department in the College of Human Environmental Sciences, the School of Medicine and the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at MU.
Thyfault is studying the impact of exercise and inactivity on the metabolic function of skeletal muscle and liver. He is examining the effects of sudden changes from active to sedentary lifestyles on fat and glucose metabolism, which can contribute to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Kanaley studies exercise endocrinology and metabolism and issues related to obesity and diabetes. She is examining the sustained skeletal benefits of adolescent exercise to determine the effect of high impact exercise on bone mass.