Some good tips for staying fit over the holidays

In the last issue of the My Healthy Lifestyle online newsletter we offered a quick guide to healthier eating over the holidays. So these tips are a companion piece with some additional emphasis on physical activity to help balance out the eating -- even the healthier eating -- part of the festivities. And there's a good reason to take advantage of some tips, tools and resources. Because while most of us love the holiday season, many of us don't like what it does to us in terms of interrupted exercise schedules and changes in our normal eating habits. Our hope is that the information below can help you enjoy the best of both worlds – kind holiday-workoutof like having your cake and eating it, too – eating less of it and working off those additional calories.

  • Be Sure to Put Exercise on the Schedule: The additional activities and commitments that are part of the holiday season for most of us can make it tough to fit everything else in an already busy day. That's why it's important to think of exercise as essential, not just an option if there's time left after everything else. So schedule your workouts, walks or whatever else you do just as you would an appointment. It's ok if you don't get to a regular exercise class or take part in your usual routine; just make sure you take part in some physical activity for at least a minimum of three times a week.

  • Thoughtful Shopping Makes it Easier: There's a good chance you're going to be around some less than healthy foods, especially when you're away from home, so put a little preparation time into making sure you have some options. Stock up on healthier foods, especially snacks, and you'll be able to relax instead of stressing about all the things you shouldn't be eating. The important thing is to do it ahead of time and focus on healthy foods that are also convenient to eat.

  • Turn Shopping into a Physical Activity: It's estimated that a couple of hours shopping will generally burn around 350 calories or more. Not exactly like jogging or dancing, but far better than watching TV – or sitting in front of a computer doing online shopping. And as an added exercise bonus, walk a little faster between stores and be sure to park at the furthest point from the store to get a reasonable amount of walking in as part of the overall activity.

  • Start a New Family Holiday Tradition: If post-Thanksgiving and Christmas meals usually involve heavy eating followed by significant couch time it may be time to add a few new activities to the repertoire before or after the meal.Try setting up a family-friends walk in the neighborhood as an opportunity to talk, get in some exercise and burn off some holiday calories. If you're more motivatHealthyHolidaysed you may want to consider Frisbee, horseshoes, touch football, basketball or anything else that keeps you upright and in motion.

When you think about it, it's not too likely that the holiday season is going to be your time to lose weight. On the other hand, it doesn't have to be an excuse to gain weight, drink too much or otherwise overindulge. Probably the best way to get through the holidays healthier is to simply focus on the true meaning of the season. Celebrate the time to come together with friends and families. Enjoy the traditions and maybe a little extra time off. And don't wait until that New Year's Resolution to commit yourself to a healthier lifestyle.