The holidays are a time for family traditions so why not start a new tradition by making fitness a part of your annual festivities, suggests a Baylor College of Medicine (www.bcm.edu) orthopedic surgeon.
“Holiday food and drinks have a lot of calories so it’s a good idea to incorporate physical activity into this time of year,” said Dr. Theodore Shybut, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at BCM. “One way to do that is by making fitness activities a part of your annual holiday gathering.”
There are several holiday-themed 5k and 10k walks and runs that the whole family can participate in, he noted.
“You can tailor these events to the fitness level that’s right for you and your family by choosing to either run or walk,” Shybut said.
In mild climates, riding bikes is another fun activity that the whole family can enjoy, and there are even places that rent bikes so out-of-town guests can also participate. Rollerblading is another fun family activity.
If you’re the one heading out of town, find out where the best walking or running trails and local parks are located. Be sure to pack your sneakers and consider bringing a Frisbee or football for some spirited family fun.
“If you’re heading to the mountains, skiing and snow shoeing are great ways to stay active,” Shybut said. “With a little research and advance planning, you can find fun events for the whole family that offer physical activity.”
As the Christmas holiday nears, you can plan a family outing to look at lights but go on foot instead of in the car, Shybut suggested. Try yoga to cope with the stress of the season.
And if don’t already have a normal fitness routine, it’s a good time to start one.
“There’s no reason to wait for Jan. 1 when the gym is full of folks who have made New Year’s resolutions,” Shybut said. “If it’s been a long time since you’re exercised regularly or if you have a medical condition, you should discuss it with your physician first and start at an appropriate level.”
For those who already exercise regularly, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to follow your normal routine, Shybut said. “If you normally go to the gym five days a week, shoot for three or four. Something is better than nothing. I think those who do get those workouts in will find the holidays all the more merry.”