For many, the holiday season symbolizes a time to give thanks, spend time with family, and to reflect on the past year. The winter months are also full of indulgence and celebration. While we all try our best to stay on track during the holidays, it is not uncommon to pick-up unhealthy habits while allowing some of our healthier habits to momentarily take a backseat.
Holiday Weight Gain
According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, holiday weight gain is an issue in America and abroad. It found that the American participants experienced a 0.2% increase in weight over the Thanksgiving holiday followed by a 0.4% increase over Christmas. Our German counterparts experienced an increase in body weight by 0.6% over Christmas and an incremental 0.2% over Easter. Finally, Japanese participants saw a 0.5% increase in body weight over Christmas and 0.3% boost over Golden Week, a period which includes four national holidays.
It’s Not Just About the Scale
The ramifications of over indulging and allowing your fitness routine to slip during the holidays can go far beyond a few pounds on the scale or an extra notch on your belt. There are a myriad of health risks associated with sudden weight gain. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, being overweight can put you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, certain types of cancer and more.
Physical Activity May Reduce Cancer Risk
The list of benefits of physical activity goes on and on; helping to maintain a healthy weight, producing natural endorphins, fighting heart disease and more. To add to those benefits, research findings have reported a link between regular physical activity and a reduced risk of certain types of cancers. A study completed by a team of researchers at the University of Vermont, Burlington, found that physically fit men, in their midlife, have a reduced risk level of dying of cancer-related deaths as they age. Medical research not only tells us that exercise can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer in men, but that it may also help to keep it at bay. Another study found that regular vigorous physical activity may help to slow the progression of prostate cancer in men age 65 and up.
Battle the Bulge this Holiday Season
Rather than simply allowing yourself to gain a few extra pounds this holiday season, get moving! Make the commitment now to stick to your workout and/or activity routine. Hit the gym a little harder the day before and the day after a major holiday splurge and consider skipping the occasional sweet or cocktail – or opt for healthier food options. By taking a few measures now, you will be doing yourself and your body a lot of favors.
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- New England Journal of Medicine. Weight Gain over the Holidays in Three Countries. Available at https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1602012. (Accessed November 15, 2016).
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. Health Risks of Being Overweight. Available at https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/weight-control/health_risks_being_overweight/Pages/health-risks-being-overweight.aspx. (Accessed November 16, 2016).
- National Cancer Institute. Physical Activity and Cancer. Available at https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/physical-activity-fact-sheet#q8. (Accessed December 1, 2016)
- JAMA Oncology. Midlife Cardiorespiratory Fitness, Incident Cancer, and Survival After Cancer in Men. Available at https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaoncology/fullarticle/2203829 (Accessed December 1, 2016)
- National Cancer Institute. Physical Activity and Cancer. Available at https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/physical-activity-fact-sheet#r9. (Accessed December 1, 2016)