As we approach the holiday season, it is important for us to appreciate our health and the health of our loved ones. Hopefully, these recommendations will keep you and yours healthy as we look forward to 2022.
Stay active with routine exercise.
Committing to exercise can be challenging during the holiday season, but remember, the more you exercise, the more energy you will have. Make a goal of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Any activity that results in sustained elevation of your heart rate and breathing is acceptable. You can do 30 minutes 5 days per week or break it up into no less than 10-minute increments throughout the day. Exercise options include walking, biking, or swimming. You can also find exercise videos on YouTube, dance to your favorite songs, or exercise with friends via Zoom. If you are elderly or have chronic medical conditions, first consult with your doctor before starting to exercise. However you choose to move, make a plan and schedule it into your day.
Stick to a healthy diet and enjoy treats in moderation.
Temptation lurks around every corner with delicious holiday dishes and tasty treats this time of year. Just remember, moderation is key. When attending holiday potlucks and parties, use a small plate to reduce portions and resist going back for seconds. When preparing meals, focus on increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables. Fresh is best; however, fresh fruits and vegetables may be hard to find when out of season. Frozen and canned items are acceptable alternatives if you select fruits in their own juices (not heavy syrup) and low-sodium/no salt added vegetables. Also include whole grains and beans followed by lean meats. Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats found in margarine, butter, shortening, gravies, sauces, pastries, dairy, red meat, and fried foods. Likewise, limit your intake of sodium found in processed meats, pre-packaged items, and salty snacks. Lastly, remember to drink enough water, avoid sweetened beverages, and limit your alcohol consumption.
Recognize and reduce stress.
For some, the holiday season is not always the most wonderful time of the year. Some people struggle with loss, grief, and isolation. Be sure to appropriately address these emotions by talking and sharing with others and seeking professional help if needed.
Avoid adding to your stress by overcommitting to social obligations. Do not be afraid to say no. Also, start early with shopping, cooking, or planning an event to avoid the last-minute rush. Formulate a plan and set goals to keep yourself on track. Good sleep is also important for reducing stress. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (even holidays!) and sleep in a quiet, dark room without the distraction of a phone, tablet, or TV.
Protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Transmission rates for COVID-19 are still high in most of the country including Ohio, and the Delta variant is very contagious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a face mask inside indoor public areas and avoiding large crowds. Everyone 2 years of age and older should wear a well-fitting mask that covers the nose and mouth. Use caution in restaurants, shopping centers, and places that are not well ventilated. Before you travel, check the transmission rates and local requirements of your destination.
Be careful when visiting family, especially the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Even if vaccinated, they could still be at risk for contracting the illness. If you are sick, stay home. COVID-19 symptoms can overlap with symptoms of allergies, the common cold, and sinus infections. It is important to contact your provider and get tested if you have symptoms. Even if you test negative for COVID-19, continue to wear a mask and avoid exposure to others while ill to reduce the risk of spreading other germs.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and are the best way to help keep you, your family, friends, and loved ones safe during the holiday season. Learn more about the vaccines at www.CDC.gov or talk with your doctor. For increased protection, get a COVID-19 booster shot if eligible. The annual flu vaccine is also an important way to help prevent the transmission of disease during flu season.
This holiday season, remember the importance of your health and well-being. Let’s end the year on a healthy note!