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  • Al Painter, NASM-CPT, CES, PES

MERRY MUSCLES: 3 WAYS EXERCISE SAVES YOUR SANITY


This time of year is nuts. There are a zillion holiday party invitations. Holiday shopping expeditions to incredibly crowded places.

For those of you with younger kids, like me, you might just have wee humans hammering you with a ferocious united elfkin ambush. Let me know if this sounds familiar:

Elf 1: "Daddy, can we get the tree out?"

Father Guy: "Can I have a snack first, I'm a bit..."

Elf 2: "Yeah daddy, I want TO DECORATE THE TREE!!!!"

Father Guy: "Yes, I know, I need to eat first. Then we..."

Efl 1: "Daddy, I want to get all of the decorations out for the tree."

Father Guy: "Can I just finish my snack first? Then we..."

Elf 2: "I LOVE DECORATING THE TREE!!"

Father Figure: "Yeah, I know, but mommy has a system. We need to wait until..."

Elf 1: "I know how to get the decorations down, I'll get them."

TRANSLATION: "I'll make a huge mess that will blow your mind that you'll get to clean up."

Elf 2: "I LOVE DECORATIONS!!"

Father Guy: "Sighhhhhhh..."

And on, and on, and on... I no longer wonder why "mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again."

At any rate, that's the holiday cheer at my house right now, you're results may vary. The one thing that helps me survive so I can enjoy the holidays? Sticking to my exercise program.

This time of year, it is critical to stay on top of your fitness. Staying consistent will help you keep your mind clear and moods merrier. Science has said so in umpteen studies and I agree.

Here are three great reasons to keep your fitness routine up, or start one up if you haven't already.

1) Me Time Will Make You Merrier

Want a little time to yourself? A workout can help you get that. Every body has their own battery recharge ritual, and exercise can help with that. The benefits include stress reduction, a clearer head and more energy (1).

2) Nature Can Nurture

Want to get even more benefit from holiday exercise? Go outside. There are a ton of benefits such as improved moods, reduced stress (especially when working out near water) and more social connection if you get out with friends (2). We know social someone's level of social connection is one of the biggest predictors of overall happiness, so this is a big one (3).

3) You'll Just Plane Feel Better

Still not convinced? This should convince you. On top of the above benefits of exercise, you get these as well. Keeping your routine in place can boost your mood by giving you a sense of pride because stuck to your plan. You'll also get quite a bit of positive neural responses in your brain (which is never a bad thing) in addition to the potential to lower both your blood sugar (great thing based on the food selections of most the holiday parties, mmmm, holiday bark...) and blood pressure and you just might sleep a bit better.

This time of year can be both incredibly fun and brutally stressful. Hopefully the above tips will help you navigate the waters and get you through to the new year in good shape.

What's your holiday happiness ritual? What's your favorite way to combat the craziness? Chime in below and let me know!

References

1) "8 Great Happiness Perks You Get From Exercise," Sandra Bilbray

2) "For a Good Mood, Get Outdoors," Julia Savacool

3) "The Happiness Advantage," Sean Achor

4) "Fit For Happiness," Paula Felps


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