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No sweat holidays: Exercise helps to ease holiday stress
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A personal trainer, Anna Marie Castillo hears firsthand from her clients just how stressful the holidays can be.
Thanksgiving and Christmas can bring plenty of joy and laughter, but all that hustle and bustle can tie us up in knots, too. Gift buying, relationship problems, a recent death in the family and hectic traveling are all things that can leave people feeling anxious or even blue during the holidays.
“A lot of people get depressed,” Castillo said.
But when life becomes too fast-paced, exercise is a great way to make you feel in control again, she said.
For example, a brisk walk or a few minutes on a treadmill gives us time to think, Castillo said, which is great for people who have a lot on their plate.
Working out also releases those “happy endorphins,” helping people feel less tense, Castillo said. Employed at a local Snap Fitness gym, Castillo tells how some gym members come in after a long day of work, looking tired, maybe feeling a little down. When they leave, they've got more energy, and their mood has lifted.
Research shows exercise may help the brain deal better with stress, according to the American Psychological Association. And the Mayo Clinic touts exercise as good meditation and good for your mood.
Castillo recommends people exercise at least three days a week for about 45 minutes at a time. Also, go into your workout knowing what you want to focus on (arms, legs, cardio, etc.) or accomplish, she said.
Folks visiting family out of town may not be able to do their usual routine, and Castillo demonstrated six simple exercises that can be done in a hotel room or mom's basement:
• Push-ups — Full or modified (with knees on the ground), they work the triceps.
• Squats — Slowly descend, bend knees until you reach a 90-degree angle, then return to the starting position.
• Lunges — Great for the legs, they also burn lots of calories.
• Jumping jacks — Yes, the same ones you did as a kid still work great.
• Box jumps — Jump onto a box, ledge, park bench or other stable platform at a comfortable height.
• Butt kickers — March in place, letting your heel touch your butt.
If you're out of town, you can also look into getting a guest pass at a local gym, Castillo said. In Yuma where the weather is mild, now's the time to take a long walk or toss around the football with the kids.
During the holidays, people tend to change their eating habits and that can be a mistake, Castillo said. Don't skip breakfast, lunch and dinner, and stay away from huge portions.
“We do not need to supersize anything,” she said.
There's no need to overindulge at parties either. At a recent gathering, Castillo said she surveyed the buffet and made sure to pick a dip with fresh tomatoes.
Drinking lots of water, avoiding sodas and getting plenty of sleep are some other habits that can help us to feel better. And don't forget to give yourself at least 15 minutes of quiet time every day, Castillo said.
“You're body's going to break apart if you don't give yourself a break,” she said.