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Do's and Don'ts for Maintaining Exercising Through the Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. It is very tempting to put exercise on hold this time of year. Schedules are erratic and overfilled, and stress is high. Suddenly, exercise becomes just ONE more thing on a too long to-do list, and it typically doesn't make the cut. Isn't that what New Year's is for? Starting over? Rather than waiting until January 1st to re-start exercise, keep it going through the holidays. Below are some "Do's" and "Don'ts" that will help keep stay active straight into 2020.

DO use exercise to help combat holiday stress. Exercise has been shown to effectively help manage stress, anxiety, depression and even season affective disorder. Notice how you feel before you exercise. Are your stressed? Tired? Grumpy? How do you feel after exercise, has your mood improved? Try writing down any changes you note as a gentle reminder for the next time you're struggling to find motivation.

DO make a plan. It is unrealistic to expect your current exercise routine to fit into what is, for a lot of us, a very busy and hectic time of year. What about travel? Are you visiting family over the holidays? What will exercise look like then? Plan for as many different situations as possible.

DO be flexible. Maybe you need to modify your current routine to make it for feasible for the holiday season. Try changing the type of exercise you're doing to make it more convenient. Can you walk outside or do something quick in your house? You can also decrease the number of times per week you exercise, or even how long you exercise for. Be realistic! Remember, this is not forever. You can revert back to your original routine at any time!

DO schedule your exercise on your calendar. Don't be afraid to move your exercise "appointment" to a different time or day when necessary, rather than skipping it all together.

DO enlist a family member, friend, or coworker to be your workout buddy or accountability partner. A little positive peer pressure goes a long way.

DON'T be afraid to change your plan if it's not working out for you.

DON'T "restart" your exercise routine on January 1st (or 2nd, or 3rd...). Not only can exercise help combat holiday weight gain, can also increase mindfulness with eating habits as well. A win-win!

DON'T lose the habit. You've worked really hard to get here! Starting a new habit (even if it's only been a few weeks since you last did it) can be very challenging. Even 5-minutes of exercise can boost your mood, get your heart pumping, and help keep your habit going! As little as 10-minutes of exercise has been shown to lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar and improve heart health. This doesn't mean doing the same thing all the time, but it does mean following through on exercise when it's planned.

DON'T give up. Even if you miss a day or two get back to it. ALL exercise counts. It doesn't have to occur in a gym. You don't even have to sweat!

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