THE holidays are generally a wonderful time, except when it comes to dreaded winter weight gain.
Parties and gatherings with mountains of rich food are nearly impossible to avoid, but what about exercise?
The prevalence of winter weight gain is no surprise, given how many usually health-conscious people suddenly stop exercising and start filling up on goodies throughout December - as if forgetting the month constitutes well over eight per cent of a year! The result? Many gain five, 10, or even 15 pounds or more before they know it.
You could always pass on the sweets and treats, but if moderation is not your thing, incorporating exercise into your holiday traditions is a must.
With school out, you can get active with your children, younger siblings, nieces and nephews, or grandchildren. Try skating or, making snow angels. Building snow people, tobogganing, and throwing snowballs can all be seriously fun workouts.
A day of downhill skiing or snowboarding is always great for burning calories, just don't spend too much time at the lodge. You can also try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Even Boxing Day shopping can burn up some stored energy, especially if you take the stairs at the mall and not the escalators.
Of course, the irony of winter weight gain is that so many have extra time off over the holidays, which could allow more time to attend the gym. Of course, everyone is busy.
To burn off some extra calories in as short a time as possible, avoid performing strenuous strength-building
routines. Instead, maximize the calories burned by rotating between the treadmill, stationary bike, stair climber, rowing machine and elliptical trainer. Noticeable results should be seen with as little as 25 minutes of cardiovascular training on just three occasions per week, but be sure not to overdo it and to stay within your target heart-rate zone.
Here's my final holiday exercise tip: set your 2013 fitness goals today and begin making an action plan to achieve them. Common resolutions like eating better, exercising more or losing weight are far too vague.
Be sure your plan includes realistic and, above all, specific lifestyle changes to help you hit the ground running in January.
In fact, just making a fitness plan in advance may persuade you to pass on thirds of eggnog on New Year's Eve.
Happy holidays, everyone!
Shaun Karp is a certified personal trainer. For further information call 604-420-7800 or go to karpfitness.com.