Get Started
Get Started

Health & Exercise Forum

Holiday Health Tips to End the Year Right

Dec 23, 2013

Guest Author: Carolyn Murrer, The Commonwealth Medical College

Guest Author Carolyn Murrer, is a graduate student in The Masters of Biomedical Sciences Program at The Commonwealth Medical College where she is a social chair on the graduate student council.  She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Movement Science from the University of Michigan and plans to continue her education in medicine.  In her free time she volunteers at the local hospital and makes time for cooking and exercising as much as possible and is always looking to try new, fresh foods.

Overindulgence during the holidays causes many to make New Year's resolutions related to diet and exercise.  But, this year, I propose that you incorporate healthy habits during the holiday season, and you may find that your resolutions are not as hard to keep.

Generally, over the holidays many people seem to worry about staying healthy and maintaining a healthy diet.  Often you hear the phrase “Come January I’ll hit the gym”… or something along those lines.  I can see why this mentality may be prevalent and I am certainly not suggesting that you forgo all of the special holiday treats that only come around this time of year.  Enjoy them. Be jolly.  Be Merry.  But be moderate.  Moderation is vital to living a healthy life.  Despite all of the fads, it is well-documented that there is no magic diet pill or weight loss program that will solve all of your problems.  In fact, the cornerstone of all successful healthy life-style programs is the emphasis on balance between energy expenditure and caloric intake.  If you expend more energy than you intake you will most likely lose weight.  On the flipside, however, if you intake more than you expend then you may end up putting on a few extra pounds.  Rather than go to extreme measures with dieting and exercise, it is best to maintain certain lifestyle habits that will translate into a happy, healthier you.  With this in mind… it is important to relax and enjoy the holidays this time of year.  In order for you to enjoy the holidays as much as possible and leave the guilt at the front door of the party, I am proposing 12 healthy holiday habits that you can adopt now and ultimately continue as part of your lifestyle throughout the year.

12 Healthy Holiday Habits

1. Make time for exercise… Even when you may be busy doing many holiday related errands/activities.  Investing only twenty minutes a day will benefit your health.  I’ve always believed that taking time out of your day to exercise is an investment for good health, it may take extra time and effort now but it is an important lifestyle habit to adopt.  The more you do it, the less it will seem like a chore and instead will begin to feel like it is part of your everyday routine.

2. Relaxation is Key… So make time for yourself.  Spend twenty minutes a day reading that good book.  This helps reduce stress levels.

3. Sleep … Maintaining adequate sleep time helps the body stay healthy.  Sleep allows time for your organs to recharge in order to prepare you for the next day.

4. Get Fresh Air…  Staying inside all day in recycled air may lead towards sickness due to the fact that you continuously breathe in other’s germs.  It is advantageous to open the windows for even only five minutes to allow fresh air to circulate throughout your house  Walk around the block to look at all of the holiday lights or take your dog for a walk.

5. Moderate Cookie and Sweet Consumption … People bake an array of holiday desserts.  Allow yourself to enjoy the sweet delicious treats, yet try not to overindulge.  Nothing tastes too great after the fifth one… does it?

6. Try New Fruits and Vegetables ... New varieties of fruits and vegetables are in season this time of year.  Every week at Wegman’s I try to sample a new vegetable.  Many vegetables at Wegman’s come from local farms, allowing for them to be fresh and for new varieties to be continuously available.  Give those fresh artichokes a chance… you never know what you may have been missing out on all of this time.

7. Be Active --Go Ice Skating or Hit the Slopes … Again, get outside and enjoy the fresh, crisp, pure air.

8. Stay Hydrated … Water is essential for maintaining health.  It plays a vital role in nourishing our organs.  Mayo Clinic recommends: Men drink 13 cups of liquid a day.  Women drink 9 cups of liquid a day.

9. Add Green … Make sure your dinner plate is full of color as much as you possibly can.  Green, leafy, vegetables are full of vitamins, fiber, and protein.  Fiber is essential for maintaining proper digestion and thereby, aids in maintaining a healthy colon.

10. Limit Sugary Drinks … The coffee shops tend to offer many delicious, sugary, caloric drinks this time of year.  Allow yourself to enjoy the caffeine treats of the season, but do not allow it to become a daily habit.  If you usually drink black coffee most days of the week, keep to that habit.  There are a lot of hidden calories in the festive, holiday drinks.

11. Treat yourself to a gym membership or a spa day … If you have been planning to buy that Yoga membership or gym membership, treat yourself now.  It is important to take care of yourself and exercise is an essential component of any wellness program.

12. Spend time with your family and friends … Laughter is a great stress reliever.  Find some fun people with positive energy!

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum” in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice in Scranton, PA and is an associate clinical professor of medicine at The Commonwealth Medical College.