Children's Hospital Colorado: Tips for staying healthy over the holidays!
This is a time of year when meals, exercise, stress, and family can get out of control, which can sabotage an athlete’s conditioning. If not managed, these disruptions can compromise both exercise recovery and athletic performance. This is not to say you have to avoid all the great treats! Instead, don’t over indulge and compromise health and performance. Here are some simple tips to stay healthy over the holidays:
1. Stay active
Take time each day to get some exercise, whether it be a full workout, a walk with your family and pet, playing flag football, hiking, winter sports, a pre- or post- holiday 5k, playing catch with friends, or try a new fitness class. Get you heart rate up for at least 30 minutes a day.
2. Eat regular meals
Starving yourself all day so you can eat a HUGE meal later is not doing yourself any favors. Eat regular meals throughout the day so that you do not overeat at dinner. High fiber, lean proteins, and healthy fats/oils help keep your appetite in line. Since protein not only helps you fill up faster, but also makes sure you stay full, this will help from overindulging on sweets and holiday treats.
3. Everything in moderation – 80-20 rule
Staying mindful over the holidays does not mean all or nothing. Follow the 80/20 rule: eat healthy meals and snacks 80% of the time and enjoy holiday treats 20% of the time. Load up on raw or steamed veggies and proteins such as ham or turkey. But, save some room on your plate for the fun stuff(ing), mashed potatoes, gravy, etc.
4. Stay hydrated
Dehydration can lead to poor performance and possible injury. It can also trick the mind into thinking its hungry, which can lead to overeating. Yes, it’s the holidays and you might not have practice or games, but staying hydrated through this time will keep you on track for when practices and games pick up again. Remember to drink water consistently throughout the day, during and in between meals and snacks.
5. Get plenty of sleep
Strengthen your immune system by getting eight to nine hours of sleep each night during the holidays. Ensuring you get enough sleep during this time will also give you more energy and make you less vulnerable to stress.
6. Keep a normal schedule
This includes keeping a normal sleep, exercise, eating, homework, and hydration routine. Try to keep your schedule as close to your regular routine as possible. This will make the transition back to school and work after the holidays easier.
7. Wash your hands often
Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water, and rub them together for at least 20 seconds. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
Even things we look forward to, such as holiday parties or gifts, can be a source of stress. For many, stress also leads to other health problems and can make it difficult for your immune system to fight illness. Feeling stressed? Stop what you’re doing for a moment. Take five deep breaths — all-the-way-down-to-your-belly deep — and concentrate on each breath as you inhale and exhale.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Virginia Winn, MSc, ATC at [email protected].