Keeping Active over the Holiday Season - as seen in Membership Matters, November edition (Diabetes Australia Victoria) author Nicole French
The holiday season is an exciting time; you may have time off work, have an increased number of social functions and may even be preparing for some time away with your family. The holidays should be a time to relax and have fun but we need to ensure that exercise habits and levels of physical activity don’t suffer too badly. After all we all know how important keeping physically active is to manage and prevent a number of health conditions, more specifically for diabetes, we understand that in order to achieve optimal glycaemic control and reduce risk of complications keeping our body moving is essential.
Many people report that changes in their usual routine over the holidays can affect their motivation to move so let’s look at some user friendly ways to help you maintain a good level of physical activity whilst you are on holidays.
- Mix up your usual activities – as holidays are a time for family and friends, plan fun exercise sessions that the whole family can enjoy. Get the kids on their bikes or scooters while you walk or jump on your bike and all head down to the local park for a fun afternoon.
- Alter your goals – if your daily goal is usually to walk to and from the train station or the bus stop, change it up to include walking around the local shopping centre, up and down the lap lane at the local pool or to a local café where you can enjoy a healthy breakfast or lunch with your family.
- Turn off the TV – a really simple way to make sure that you sit less and move more. By doing this you will always find something else to do and feel a great sense of achievement.
- Go outside – why not look for a little hobby to start outside the house for example gardening.
- Be adventurous – try something different. Use the flexibility of not being tied to a work schedule to try something different for example an indoor rock climbing centre, ten pin bowling, a tai chi or yoga session.
- Look for opportunities to simply MOVE - it amazing of just how much extra movement we can incorporate into a day if we just look for opportunities to move for example cleaning out the kitchen cupboards or the garage.
Getting Motivated to Move
If getting motivated is difficult consider a monitoring system to track how much activity you are doing so that you have a bench mark and can set clear goals, for example using a pedometer, a written diary or smart phone App where you can record your daily movement. Also consider goal setting. When setting goals consider the acronym SMART, that is, make goals:
- Specific this is the who, what, when, where, and how of your goal
- Measurable how will you measure your goal? If there is not a clear measure in place how will you know if you’ve reached it?
- Achievable if you really want to set yourself up for success, the goal should be something you can practically attain
- Realistic something that you are willing and able to work towards. This doesn’t mean you can’t set the bar high
- Timely your goal(s) should have a specific time-line; a date by which you want to achieve them. This will motivate you to get started
Research indicates that those of us that set SMART goals are more likely to achieve their goals than those that set non SMART goals so why not have a try at setting some SMART goals today?
Also consider barriers that may limit your ability to achieve your goals, this will help you plan well and manage the barriers rather than be defeated by them. For example consider how bad weather could impact on your goal of walking and have an action plan for this. During Summer, hot weather can be a barrier, in this case, why not consider walking around a shopping centre or taking yourself down to the local pool.
Overall, we need to make sure that we enjoy our holidays; this time provides an opportunity to spend time with loved one, have some fun as well as rest and recover from a hectic year. Let’s be mindful in amongst the celebrations and letting our hair down that aspects of self-care, including exercise and diet do not have to suffer. Plan your activity, mix it up and look at involving family and friends (not forgetting the family pets of course, they’re a part of the family too).