Keeping active during the holidays

Mike's Musings

With winter well and truly here (it’s actually snowing while I’m writing this), the Ministry of Health is encouraging people to stay active through a time of the year that many find hard to get motivated to exercise, and has issued a list of tips to help.

“By doing just over 20 minutes of activity per day you can help reduce the risk of premature death, heart disease and stroke, among many other health benefits,” the government release states, including keeping off those unwanted extra pounds that seem to sneak onto our bodies over the holidays.

Now, I’m not one to preach healthy living to people. My physique should tell you I’m not going to become a personal trainer anytime soon (I’ve hear it said that I’m clearly in shape, since “round” is a shape).

But even I find, as I’m sure many do, that a little goes a long way when it comes to exercise, especially in terms of emotional benefits. I know I feel a lot more depressed about the state of the world, for example, when I’ve been sitting on recliners and couches during all my spare time.

So here’s my short list of ways to at least stay a little more active than you might feel like staying over the next few weeks or months, taking my cue from the recent release from the Ministry of Health.

“Go for a short walk and keep it simple,” says tip number six on the Ministry’s list. “There are lots of places you can go to rack up the recommended 10,000 steps a day — even your local mall.” I’ll take that one step further and say don’t worry about some preconceived number. 10,000 steps might be the “recommended” number, but any is better than none.

Just take some.

“Start small: do jumping jacks during commercials, or commit to taking the stairs everywhere you go,” says tip number eight. “Smaller goals are easier to achieve and give you lots of room to challenge yourself as you get more comfortable.”

I watch football games in the basement while I cook upstairs in the kitchen, because it forces me to take the stairs about a dozen more times than I otherwise would.

While I’m watching the game, I throw a 10lb medicine ball up in the air and catch it a few times.

“While you are preparing for family and friends arriving for dinners and gatherings, remember all that housework counts towards your recommended physical activity,” reads the ministry’s fourth tip. “Cleaning isn’t so bad when you think about it that way, is it?”

Okay, settle down, Ministry of Health! I’m already chucking a medicine ball around during the football game and taking the stairs at the commercials so I can cook dinner! Get off my back!

“Create an activity calendar for a month, with daily challenges for staying active,” is the top tip on the ministry’s list.

The most important part of this tip, for me, is to make those goals reasonable. We all know I’m not going to do 100 burpees on Jan. 2. And it’s way easier to give up when you’re being unsuccessful.

The moral of the story: For some of us, at least, any physical activity is better than none. I’m going to keep working on “some” and see where it goes from there.