EXERCISE: A Natural Boost of Endorphins. Beat the Stress of the Holidays
By Tiffany Gust BS, FMSC, CPT, USAT
With the upcoming holidays comes the stress of baking, shopping, entertaining, and gift giving. Holiday stress statistics reported by the American Psychological Association show that over 69% of people are stressed by the feeling of having a “lack of time,” 68% are stressed by perceiving a “lack of money,” and up to 51% feel stressed out over the “pressure to give or get gifts.”
Stress is a fact of life, but the holidays seem to bring out a series of stresses that don’t come up any other time of year. Emotional stress can take its toll on your body and can weaken your immune system. During the holidays, some choose to ditch their workouts because they are too busy. In reality, your workout is just what you need. Exercise can decrease cortisol (a hormone released during stress) and increase endorphins (your body’s feel-good chemicals) that can give your body a natural boost. During the holidays, who couldn’t use that?
Here are some ways to include exercise in your busy holiday schedule:
- Instead of taking the time to go to the gym, put in a DVD or use an exercise program from YouTube. This will save you time that you would have been spent driving to the gym.
- Cut your 60-minute workout to 30 minutes. You can even split that into two 10-15 minute sessions, and do one in the morning and one in the evening. This way you can get in some fitness, but still have time to get those gifts wrapped. Say to yourself, “Something is better than nothing.”
- Find ways to get movement in your day by parking at the back of the parking lot, taking the stairs, or getting up from your desk and walking to the restroom that isn’t the closest one.
- Use your gift shopping as your workout, keep moving and pick up the pace.
- Do 20 minutes of body only exercises—squats, lunges, push-ups, wall sits, and sit ups. Get the whole family involved and let them pick a favorite exercise.
- When spending time together as a family, use movement by playing “Charades,” “Hide and Seek,” or “Just Dance” on the Wii. Tie in the family’s interests and get everyone involved in a fun and functional way. My family enjoys caroling to family and friends. It gets us out of the house and moving.
So this holiday season, don’t ditch your workout! Let it make you feel good by engaging in exercise and releasing those endorphins!
Check out our Southern Utah Health & Wellness Directory at www.stghealth.com.