‘Tis the Season to Keep Active

Written on behalf of the NIH/NIDDK Weight-Control Information Network

The holiday season seems like the perfect excuse to put physical activity on the back burner. Combine cold weather and shorter days with holiday activities and preparations, and it’s easy to see how a physical activity routine might fall lower on the priority list this time of year. Without much extra time and effort, however, your clients can work physical activity into the holiday season, making it fun and healthy for the whole family.

Here are some ideas to keep everyone moving from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the Weight-control Information Network (WIN), a national information service of the NIDDK.

  1. Walk and walk some more. Walkingis free and easy to do indoors as well as outside. Walk to the park or stroll through a neighborhood to look at holiday lights and decorations. If it’s cold and rainy, take the family shopping and walk around the mall or grocery store.
  2. Don’t stay snowbound. Bundle up and head outside to build a snowman, clear steps or shovel out the car, go sledding, have a snowball fight, or take a hike through the snow. Your children or entire family could offer to shovel snow or walk to the grocery store for an older neighbor or friend.
  3. Make the best of being indoors. Like walking, climbing steps doesn’t require special equipment. Have family members help you bring laundry—or holiday decorations, lights, or presents—to and from the attic or basement. See how many steps your children can climb in a minute. Let your children choose a favorite fitness video, game, or show, and invite a friendover to join the fun.
  4. Take advantage of community resources. If your children and family like sports, sign up for an indoor basketball or volleyball league at a local recreation center, community center, or school. Some parks, community centers, and schools also have outdoor basketball courts, tennis courts, and tracks that are open to the public year-round.

Overcoming Roadblocks

If lack of time, competing activities, or other roadblocks threaten to derail your best-laid physical activity plans, try these strategies to overcome them:

  • Break activities into small chunks of time. If some days get too busy, spend 10 minutes walking the dog, sweeping or vacuuming, or dancing to holiday tunes. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator when you’re shopping or running errands.
  • Pick times when other activities won’t get in the way. If your family huddles around the TV for Monday Night Football, pick another time for a family walk.
  • Let everyone have a say. Have each family member choose a favorite activity. Being involved in making decisions about family activities will increase everyone’s excitement and willingness to participate.

Visit the NIDDK’s website to order or download materials about physical activity, weight control, healthy eating, obesity, and other health topics. For updates, tips, news, and information about our latest publications, follow us on Facebook.

Do you have suggestions to help keep clients moving throughout the holidays? NIDDK would love to hear them! Send them to: healthinfo@niddk.nih.gov.

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