How to Stay Healthy Through the Holidays

Don't let your healthy lifestyle slip this holiday season simply due to altered schedules and an abundance of food and high calorie beverages at social gatherings. Here are 5 tips to help you retain your healthy habits through the end of 2014.

#1. Stay Active. Your metabolism isn't going to automatically crank itself up to MAX just because the holidays are here with extra calories, so stick to your workout routine. Generally speaking you should be active at least four days a week, with aerobic activity contributing to at least one of those days. Even if you have to travel for the holidays, make the effort to go for a run or a walk, even early in the morning on Thanksgiving. Invite family and friends to play outdoor games during the day or go skating or sledding if the cold weather allows. Use the weather to your advantage, get creative with it!

#2. Eat Healthy. Sure, you can "sample" the various dishes present, but that doesn't mean this is your opportunity to stuff yourself so full that you can't stomach another bite. Stick to the vegetables and unprocessed foods as much as possible (P.S. Potatoes don't count as a vegetable!). Remember those leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner will be around for quite some time, there's no need to eat it all in one sitting champ. Moderation is key.

#3. Stay Hydrated. For some, the holiday season involves alcohol. Don't over indulge though, as this leads to dehydration, which weakens your immune system, which leads to you feeling like garbage. Have a glass of water between alcoholic beverages to stay hydrated throughout the day or evening. IF you are travelling via air this holiday season, be sure to drink 8 ounces of water for every hour you're in the air. The low humidity of high-altitude environments leaves you more vulnerable to infections from bacteria and viruses.

#4. Sanitize Your Shopping. If you insist on going shopping on Black Friday, pack an alcohol-based sanitizer with for your hands, and use it. I'm generally not a fan of over-sanitized environments, but this is an exception. With the crazy amount of traffic going through stores on Black Friday (during cold and flu season) it's worth it. Shopping carts, escalator rails, ATM touch screens, and department store doors are all GREAT surfaces for spreading germs.

#5. Rest! Don't run yourself ragged! Your body needs time to reset, especially after long trips, days full of catching up with family and friends, and preparing meals for extra large tables of guests. There is no magic number, it varies by age, activity level, and individual preference. Six to eight hours is the typical recommendation, but it's really up to you. For more tips on what you can do to improve your sleep cycles, visit www.sleepfoundation.org.

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