Aah, the holidays! Family. Food. Shopping. Food. Parties. More food.
Before long, we start to feel the effects.
“We all get very busy and stressed during the holidays. We tend to eat more, drink more, travel more, and party more,” says Bridgette Argus, wellness nurse at The Esquiline. As the community’s wellness nurse, she deals with a very energetic crowd of older adults who tend to know the value of a regular exercise routine.
She adds that it’s okay to overindulge a bit during the holiday season. However, overindulgence does have a price—stress, tiredness, weight gain, and a feeling of general unhealthiness.
To avoid holiday weight gain and the other costs of overindulgence, Bridgette’s advice is: Drink water, limit calories, get enough rest, and exercise.
Although it may be difficult to find time to exercise, it is essential to maintain an exercise schedule, she says. Here are five metabolism-boosting exercises by Prevention to keep off those holiday pounds:
5 Exercises to Keep Off Holiday Pounds
1. Pendulum Kickback: tones triceps, butt and thighs.
Holding a weight in each hand, stand with right leg straight in front 6 to 12 inches off floor, foot flexed, and elbows bent 90 degrees so forearms are parallel to floor. Swing right leg behind you, and squeeze glutes as you straighten arms. Return to start. Repeat for a full set; switch legs.
2. Crouch & Pull: tones shoulders, upper back, arms, obliques, butt and thighs.
Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart, and sit back into partial squat. Hold a weight in each hand and hinge forward from hips about 45 degrees, arms below shoulders, palms facing in. Keeping lower body still, rotate torso to right, bend right arm, and pull weight toward chest, elbow pointing toward ceiling. Return to start; repeat alternating sides. (If you have back problems, use one weight at a time and place other hand on a chair for support)
3. Knee-Hugger Chest Fly: tones chest and abdomen.
Holding weights in hands, lie faceup with knees bent, shins parallel to floor, arms out to sides, elbows slightly bent, and palms facing ceiling. Contract abs and lift hips about 3 inches off the floor. At the same time, squeeze chest muscles and raise arms, bringing weights together over chest. Lower to start and repeat.
4. Squat Curl: tones biceps, butt and thighs.
Hold a weight in right hand at side, palm forward. Cross left ankle over right thigh (hold a chair if needed). Bend right knee and hips, sitting back (keep knee behind toes) as you raise weight to right shoulder. Return to start. Repeat for a full set; switch sides.
5. Lift-Off Lunge: tones shoulders, triceps, butt and thighs.
Stand with feet hip-width apart, weights at shoulders, palms forward. Step right foot back about 2 feet, bend both knees, and lower until left thigh is about parallel to floor, knee over ankle. Press into left foot and stand up as you pull right knee forward (so you're balancing on left leg), and press weights overhead. Without touching floor, swing right leg back into lunge position as you lower weights. Repeat for a full set; switch legs.
Perform these exercises 2 or 3 nonconsecutive days each week. The entire routine should take at least a half hour, so try to do 3 sets of 10 for each exercise. However, you can reduce the number of sets and the number of repetitions if they are difficult. Then, when you become more accustomed to the exercises, add them back.
If you already have a regular exercise program, you can substitute some or all of these exercises for an added boost, Bridgette says.
These exercises can be performed at home with homemade dumbbells or at your local fitness center with the real thing. If you don’t usually use weights, start light with one-pound weights or cans of food.
All of these exercises are suitable for people over 50. However, that doesn’t mean you should begin tomorrow.
These exercises come with all the standard precautions: Consult your doctor. Don’t do them if they hurt. Adjust them by holding onto a chair or doing them in a pool if you have balance or other problems. Get the advice of an exercise professional if you are unfamiliar with this type of exercising.
To feel your best during the holidays, overindulgence of any kind should be balanced by your wellness efforts, Bridgette says.
“Balance is the key,” she advises.
What if it was possible to exercise for free…or at least without additional cost? The Esquiline's independent living community has a wellness center and trained staff, including Bridgette, dedicated to keeping you healthy.
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