Keep active during holidays, expert says

Richard Bogren, Reames, Elizabeth S.  |  12/4/2009 9:42:59 PM

News Release Distributed 12/04/09

Physical activity is important all year, but it can be especially helpful during the holidays when you may be eating more than usual, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.

“In addition to burning calories, physical activity helps build muscle,” Reames says. “The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.”

Physical activity is a good way to burn calories and can help you feel less guilty about enjoying holiday favorites, she says. Besides the benefits of burning calories, physical activity can improve your sense of well-being and help reduce your stress level.

Reames offers several ways to increase physical activity during the holiday season:

– Take a walk with friends and family after holiday meals to enjoy fall foliage or holiday decorations in your neighborhood.

– If you’re near a mall, try mall walking. Find out about special hours reserved for walkers. Do some window shopping and enjoy the decorations.

– Take a walk in the woods to collect foliage and pine cones for decorating and, perhaps, even your tree.

– Take time to play with your children or grandchildren. Try favorite activities such as biking, throwing the football or shooting hoops.

– Try some different activities, such as line dancing or an exercise video workout.

– During halftime of your favorite football game, join friends in a game of flag football. You can burn as many as 140 calories for every 15 minutes of play compared to only 71 calories for each hour of TV game-watching.

Physical activity guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that adults get 2 1/2 hours a week – 30 minutes a day – of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, such as walking briskly, water aerobics, ballroom dancing and general gardening, Reames says. Alternately, the guidelines recommend 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity, such as racewalking, jogging or running, swimming laps and jumping rope.

“Celebrate your holidays by spending time with family and friends,” Reames says. “But consider planning time to get together that does not revolve around food.”

For information about eating healthfully using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPyramid, contact the LSU AgCenter office in your parish.

Rick Bogren

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