Health and fitness need not be sacrificed during the holiday season, even with all the food, partying and downtime to be had. Healthcare practitioners usually have an advice or two to not put on the pounds, especially in the Philippines where partying is endless, and starts as early as the first week of December.

If there are just three things to serve as guidelines on how to keep fit during the Christmas season, it would probably be: sleep, stay hydrated and move.

Why zzz’s are important

People often forego sleep when a lot of things keep them busy. And Christmas can be twice more stressful than most days of the year.

So HCPs can’t stress this enough: get enough sleep. And it’s sound advice, too. An individual deprived of sleep, loses on a crucial hormone - ghrelin. It’s a hunger hormone and sleep deprivation increases the level of ghrelin in the body resulting in a spike in hunger pangs.

According to Registered Nurse and Dietician Cheshire Que, the less sleep, the more hungry a person gets with the automatic response of overeating the following day.

Leptin is the other hunger hormone, but it functions to suppress appetite. Although it is ghrelin that is more sensitive to sleep, thus the reminder to get enough especially during the holidays when so many ‘unhealthy’ things could be going on.

Move, move, move

The second tip to keep from gaining weight during the holidays is to shun physical activity for extended periods of time. With a few days vacation, the tendency is to be a couch potato, catching up on television series, or having movie marathons.

There is nothing wrong to relax from everyday routine, and just sit and do nothing. But do not spend the entire break from work just sitting and sleeping even during the day.

Walk, play, exercise. In general, sweat out all the food and alcohol you take in at every party or get-together. Studies show that people can put on a pound or two during this season. And without a serious plan to shed them off during or after, it will be harder to get rid of them after the holidays and could be the start of a weight gain pattern.

Hit the park to unwind or take in the sunset. Holidays don’t always have to mean food and lethargy, even when most busy folks simply want to de-stress. Being with nature is an excellent way to relax.

Go for a 10-minute walk, and do it several times a day. While it may not get you all sweaty, it still does burn the calories you’ve probably packed in.

It may be challenging, but the consequences could be worse if you totally stop any physical activity.

Make water your friend

Parties often include alcohol, whether hard or soft drinks. And alcohol has the tendency to dehydrate, especially when too much is consumed because the body will produce less of the anti-diuretic hormone that functions to reabsorb water.

Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to vomiting, which also results in dehydration.

So, it’s always better to drink water first before consuming alcoholic drinks. And never drink on an empty stomach, because it will dehydrate the body faster.

Drinking moderately should help, in avoiding hangovers and any other alcohol-induced health concerns.

The Christmas season is not an excuse to slack off from healthy habits. It may be just a short period of time, but everything that goes on is often intense - a lot of food, drinks and sleeping less.

It is still best to greet the new year healthy, after all the fun. MIMS

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