By: Ann M. Swank
The holiday season presents many challenges for individuals with diabetes. don’t mean to rain on your fruitcake, but research indicates that weight gain during the holiday season is typically on the order of 5 to 10 pounds.
The reason for this weight gain is because there are so many more opportunities to overindulge during the holidays (such as office parties and family dinners and outings) and less time to exercise due to all the hustle and bustle.
For a person with type 2 diabetes, even a small gain of 5 to 10 pounds can significantly effect glucose and overall diabetes control.
Therefore, weight maintenance during the holiday season is critical.
Here are four exercise-based strategies you can incorporate in your routine to help you avoid or at least lessen the seasonal impact on your glucose control.
Strategy 1: Increase Your Activity Level
The first strategy is to include more “active” activities in your holiday routine.
For example, try taking the stairs instead of elevators and parking a greater distance from the entrances of malls and shops.
When you visit neighbors and friends during the holiday, try walking instead of driving or taking the bus if they live close by.
Strategy 2: Don’t Let the Weather Get the Best of You
Bad weather can pose a significant challenge to maintaining your usual level of activity during the holiday season.
Rather than giving up on your activity during inclement weather, seek out an alternative location for exercise.
For example, many shopping malls welcome walkers during the hours prior to opening. Shopping malls are climate-controlled areas and offer a safe environment for exercise. In my neighborhood, three of our local hospitals offer walking clubs associated with shopping malls. The walks are scheduled at convenient times during the day. These walking clubs offer a safe, supervised area and friendly company for exercise.
Check with your local hospitals and shopping malls to see if this service is provided; it could be a helpful way to continue your exercise routine even in bad weather.
Strategy 3: Involve Your Family and Friends
A third strategy is to involve your family and friends in your exercise routine.
Holidays offer more opportunities for family togetherness and socializing, so find a way to make these interactions help you maintain your exercise routine. You might consider family walks or cycling trips around your neighborhood. Visiting friends in the neighborhood, taking after-dinner strolls together, or caroling with friends or family can keep you moving yet not disrupt your holiday plans.
Strategy 4: Diversify Your Routine
A fourth strategy, my personal favorite, is to diversify your exercise routine. Adding a modest strength-training program or another aerobic activity such as cycling or stair climbing to your current exercise program are ways to accomplish this goal. These four strategies are easy to adopt and can help you to keep off the extra seasonal weight.
Have a safe and happy holiday season!