healthy lifestyle

How to Stay Healthy Around the Holidays

The end of the year is quickly approaching. This is a joyous time filled with holiday celebrations and end of the year parties, but it’s also when people stress, overindulge and healthy practices take a back seat.

Below are several ways to survive the holiday season while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Hydrate:

Dry air, as we often see here in Arizona, dries out the mucous membranes in your body, which, in turn, allows bugs into our systems. Also, travelling via airplane, puts us at risk for getting ill as the inside of airplane cabins provides for low humidity at high altitudes. Hydrating also regulates your body temperature, lubricates your joints, and allows for transportation of nutrients.

Stay active:

Exercise is just as important during the holiday as it is during the rest of the year. Try to do something physically active 4-5 times a week. This will also allow the body to burn calories as our caloric intake increases. Find creative ways to incorporate physical activity, and even better, including friends and family as well.

Get sleep:

People have a tendency to wear themselves out during the holiday season. Not getting a good night’s sleep, puts one at risk for getting ill because you’ve worn down your immune system.

Practice healthy nutrition:

Eating healthy can be very challenging with the abundance of cookies and cakes and various other sweets everywhere we look. My advice is to eat junk food in moderation and make sure to incorporate the “good” foods including fruits, vegetables, protein and fiber, that allow your body function optimally.

Alcohol:

Alcoholic drinks go hand in hand with most holiday get togethers. When drinking alcoholic drinks, I recommend alternating between alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks. This will minimize the chance of a hangover the next day.

Know Stress Points:

Stress is something that is unavoidable. Know your stress points then find ways of dealing with them. Deal with them by incorporating breaks when you’re in stressful situations. Also, do something you enjoy before and/or after dealing with stressful situations.

Relaxation:

Relaxation is key during the holidays since so much of the holiday season is the opposite of relaxing. Find time to sit on the couch and read your favorite book or watch TV. This will balance out all of the busy activity.

Get Rid of the Germs:

Washing your hands before and after eating, after using the restroom, and other times during the day, can help minimize transferring germs from someone or something to you. The holiday season is when colds and flu bugs are at their peak. Using hand sanitizer throughout the day is also helpful, but don’t use it as a complete substitute for handwashing. Hands should still be washed several times per day.

Following the previously mentioned pointers will help improve your ability to stay healthy during the holiday season so you can focus on enjoying the celebratory time, while still incorporating healthy behaviors.

How To Stay Healthy As You Age

One of the most common questions I get as a Physical Therapist is from people over the age of sixty, asking what they can do to stay healthy as they age. This is a loaded question as there are so many things that can be done or modified in one’s life to assure for healthy aging. I have been able to condense this answer down to just a few key points.

Stay Busy

There is no question that people that keep themselves busy have a tendency to be healthier. Part of the reason is because when one is busy doing things, they don’t have the opportunity to think about or dwell on other things (like physical ailments, stressors in their life, etc). I encourage seniors to make sure they socialize with family and friends, volunteer, etc. A general rule of thumb that works is to make sure you see at least one person every day.

Exercise

It’s no secret that exercise has endless benefits for your health and wellbeing. Regular exercise can help prevent heart disease, diabetes and pain associated with arthritis. The focus of the exercise routine should be on flexibility, strength, endurance, and

balance. This will aid in the prevention of falls. I recommend thirty minute cardiovascular exercises performed daily which will help burn calories, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and increase energy levels. Strengthening exercises using weights or other forms of resistance training will help build muscle, which will assist in balance. Strengthening exercises include (but not limited to) squats, arm raises, bicep curls, rows, side and back leg raises, and heel raises. Stretching exercises should target large muscle groups including the quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, arms and

chest muscles. For individuals with limited mobility and/or pain, low impact exercises like swimming, yoga, and tai chi are great options. Exercise benefits are more than just body, but also benefit emotional health by maintaining an active lifestyle.

Diet

Providing your body with a good diet can help you stay active and remain active. As you age, your metabolism slows down, which means you need fewer calories than before. It’s important to choose foods that provide the best nutritional value, such as lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy. In order to maintain your weight, it’s important that you use the recommended servings. Lastly, staying hydrated is crucial to prevent dehydration, fatigue and to maintain an adequate fluid balance in the body.

When in good health, seniors can stay active and do more. As health needs change, healthy living is the best way to avoid disease, improve one’s quality of life, and live longer.