How to stay healthy on vacation – Newsroom

November 7, 2022

Exercising can fight stress and balance holiday excess

Posted in: Education, Faculty Voices, Home Page News, Human Services

All those articles and tips you might see this holiday season about burning Thanksgiving dinner?

Ignore them – regular binge eating over a period of weeks or months can indeed affect weight and body fat, but Evan Matthews, associate professor of exercise science and physical education, says overeating in course of a single meal will not have a significant impact on your body.

Instead, make a plan to stay active all winter long — not just when you feel “guilty” about having a few too many glasses of eggnog. Here, Matthews shares tips on maintaining consistent physical activity during the colder months to balance out big dinners, toast, and holiday treats.

How to exercise safely in winter

  • Safety first! When exercising outdoors, be sure to dress in layers. Remove one layer at a time when you’re hot – the goal is to be warm, but to avoid excessive sweating, which can increase the risk of hypothermia.
  • Avoid early morning or late evening workouts in cold weather. This will allow you to exercise when the temperature is near the highest it will be during the day. Also try to avoid bad weather like rain, snow and strong wind.
  • Follow security protocols. Consider local and current COVID-19 guidelines before deciding to exercise indoors with other people.

Simple ways to exercise

  • Train at home. Investing in home exercise equipment will reduce the barriers to exercise associated with the “need to go to the gym” mentality.
  • No equipment? No problem. Cardiorespiratory and resistance exercises can include walking, running, and bodyweight calisthenics.

Customize your training plan

  • Find an exercise buddy. Build in-person or virtual social relationships around your exercise habits to promote exercise adherence.
  • Plan it into your existing routine instead of reorganizing your whole life around exercise. Adults should accumulate 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise per week. “Cardiorespiratory exercise can be broken up throughout the day into 10-minute chunks rather than all at once,” says Matthews. “It makes walking and other forms of exercise easier during short breaks throughout the day.”

Focus on the benefits of exercise to stay motivated

  • Good for the body… “Exercise is well known to improve physical health, including reducing blood pressure, cholesterol, body fat and insulin resistance. All of this decreases the likelihood or severity of many cardiometabolic diseases,” says Matthews.
  • … and the spirit. Studies strongly suggest that exercise can “reduce anxiety and depression in everyone, no matter how severe your symptoms are,” he says. “In fact, cardiorespiratory exercise has been shown to be as effective as psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy in treating depression. Exercise can also be used in conjunction with other mental health treatments to improve anxiety and depression, including conditions like seasonal affective disorder.

Make exercise a year-round activity

Evan Matthews
Evan Matthews

Matthews’ tips for creating an active cardiorespiratory and resistance exercise routine can be maintained year-round. “The positive impacts on physical and mental health are greater with long-term exercise adoption,” he says. “And some of the most basic forms of exercise can not only help you on vacation, but help you throughout the year.”

To interview Evan Matthews, please contact the Media Relations team.

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