Healthier Holidays in 1 – 2 – 3!

People dancing outside at a winter festival

If better health is the gift you want to give yourself this holiday season, try these tips to add more movement to your day and healthy foods to your plate.

1. Stay active.

Even a few minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity can deliver some health benefits and count toward reaching the recommendations. For adults, the many benefits of physical activity include reduced short-term feelings of anxiety and better sleep.

Here are some tips for staying active during the holidays:

  • When shopping, walk a few quick laps around the shopping center before going into any stores.
  • Take the stairs at every opportunity. Look for stairs in parking garages, offices, and shopping centers. If you can’t climb the stairs all the way to where you’re going, take the elevator part of the way then take the stairs the rest of the way.
  • Skip the search for a close parking spot during your errands. Park farther away and walk briskly to your destination.
  • When friends and family gather, go for a group walk. You can make the walk more fun by turning it into a scavenger hunt. Or play an active group game in your yard or local park.
  • Bundle up and take a walk instead of a drive to see holiday lights.

2. Eat healthy.

Eating well supports muscles and bones, boosts immunity, helps the digestive system function, and helps with weight management among other health benefits. Good nutrition involves eating a variety of healthy foods. To do that during the holidays:

  • If you eat foods that that are high in calories, saturated fat, or added sugars, choose small portions and only eat them once in a while. Opt for healthier foods most of the time.
  • At parties and other gatherings, fill your plate with your favorite fruits and vegetables first, then add small portions of less healthy items.
  • If you are taking food to a party, make it your favorite healthy dish. Then you’ll be sure that at least one item at the party will be a healthy choice that you enjoy.
  • Make healthier versions of your traditional recipes by using ingredients with less fat and salt.
  • Spice up baked fish or chicken by adding salsa or black bean sauce.
  • Consider beans in place of higher-fat meats.

3. Plan activities that don’t involve eating.

Volunteers at a coat drive

Here are some ideas for shifting the focus away from food during the holiday season.

  • Volunteer in your community; it might turn into an activity you enjoy year-round.
  • Try a seasonal activity such as ice skating or winter hiking.
  • Make a “walk and talk” date with a friend or family member. Skip the Frappuccino and explore an area that is new to you.
  • Visit that museum or exhibit you’ve been wanting to see.

Consider what new healthy traditions you can start this year. The possibilities are endless!

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