Physical activity is important year-round but can be especially helpful during the holidays when you may be eating more than usual. It is a good way to burn calories and help you feel less guilty about enjoying holiday favorites, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.
“In addition to burning calories, physical activity helps build muscle,” Reames said, explaining that the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.
“Besides the benefits of burning calories, physical activity can improve your sense of well-being and help reduce your stress level,” Reames said.
The nutritionist offers several ideas to increase physical activity during the holiday season:
– Plan time with family and friends that does not revolve around food.
– Take walks after holiday meals to enjoy fall foliage or holiday home decorations.
– 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 your home and 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, like 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.
New physical activity guidelines from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services released in October recommend that adults get two and one-half hours a week (30 minutes per day) of moderately intense aerobic physical activity, such as brisk walking, water aerobics, ballroom dancing and general gardening, or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity, such as racewalking, jogging or running, swimming laps and jumping rope.
For related nutrition topics, click on the Food and Health link on the LSU AgCenter home page at www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture