01:47am Sunday 23 February 2020

Hold onto your healthy habits and yule have a very happy Christmas

“It’s hard enough for many of us to establish an exercise routine and often harder to keep to it during the Christmas season but there are some strategies that we can all use to stay on track,” says QUT social and preventative health expert Professor Debra Anderson.

“It can be daunting facing the holiday season when we feel we deserve a bit of relaxation and indulgence but want to keep up our healthy habits through it all,” said Professor Anderson, from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, who suggests looking upon exercise as medicine.

“Exercise first thing in the morning before the heat of the day, preferably in temperatures in the low 20s and drink plenty of water before and after.

“If you are not an early riser, try the cool of the evening after 5pm. You could also go to the gym where it’s air conditioned, swim in the pool, river or ocean.

“Make up a playlist of your favourite Christmas songs and do a 30-minute workout in an air-conditioned room and dance, skip – buy an old-fashioned skipping rope or a hula hoop from your toy shop.

“Include two sets of 15 squats, push-ups, lunges and tricep dips on your sofa chair.
“Take every opportunity to exercise by fitting it into your holiday activities – if you’re at the beach try paddle-boarding or swimming in the surf; run on the beach; walk to a festive lunch; dance like crazy. It all counts as exercise and it’s a chance to try something new.”

One of the most important things we can do to maintain our wellbeing over the hectic holidays is to de-stress amidst all the parties, entertaining, shopping and late nights.

“Listen to calming music or download Pandora’s Rainforest Seclusion and just sit comfortably for 15 minutes and clear your mind of all the clutter,” Professor Anderson said.

“This is a strategy to keep calm and de-stress and helps you enjoy the buzz of the holiday season so you are ready for the next day.”

Professor Anderson said choosing the healthy options in festive foods makes exercise more effective.

“One strategy is if you are going to a Christmas lunch switch it for dinner so that you enjoy the large lunch and have a light salad for dinner,” she said.

“Survey the desserts and go for the healthiest option – indulge in the luscious fruits at this time of year.

“Think about portions – have a little bit of what you want. Think in teaspoons rather than big dollops when it comes to the custard and cream.”

Professor Anderson and Dr Charlotte Seib made headlines early this year with the publication of a five year study which found that doctors should prescribe tailored exercise regimes for women over 50.

“Studies clearly show moderate to vigorous intensity activity can have mental and physical health benefits, particularly when part of broader positive health changes,” Professor Anderson said.

“Once we thought that 30 minutes of mild exercise a day was enough to improve health, our research showed that older women should do at least 30-45 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise, and by that we mean exercise that leaves you huffing and puffing five times a week.”

Professor Anderson is also part of QUT’s Faculty of Health, School of Nursing and director of QUT’s Women’s Wellness Research Project at IHBI.

Media contact: Niki Widdowson, QUT media, 07 3138 2999 or n.widdowson@qut.edu.au

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