Published on 11/17/17

Holiday exercise can help reduce stress and boost the holiday spirit

By Sage Barnard

November and December seem to be the time of year that everyone throws their exercise routines to the wind. Putting together parties, buying presents and preparing tons of good food makes it tough for anyone to set aside time for exercise.

The catch is that exercise can make the holidays merrier by relieving some holiday stress. Here are some tips and advice from University of Georgia Cooperative Extension’s Walk Georgia program that will help you keep a healthy routine throughout the holidays.

Take a Break

The constant stress of getting your house ready for the arrival of friends and family can drive anyone over the edge. Take 30 minutes in between errands and take a walk in the brisk winter air or go for a short jog. Short bursts of exercise can give you energy when you’re about to crash. It also produces those much-needed endorphins that can help jump-start that Christmas spirit. A little exercise can have mood-boosting effects, lasting well past the holiday season.

Just One More Cookie

Limiting how much you eat can be tough, especially when you’re surrounded by pecan pie, sugar cookies and plenty of warm casseroles. Instead of grabbing one of those holiday cookies your neighbors made for you every time you walk into your kitchen, take them to work and share them with your co-workers. It will make you feel better about your eating habits and popular around the office.

Treat Yourself

Balance is key when it comes to the holidays. Too much of anything, whether presents or food, can become problematic. After a Thanksgiving or Christmas feast, you can burn off some those decadent treats by playing a few rounds of football with everyone or taking a long walk around the neighborhood. It is inevitable that you will accumulate some cheat days around the holidays, and that is perfectly fine. Don’t feel bad about having a few heavy and heavenly meals with your loved ones — just make sure you do a little something extra to keep that healthy balance.

Set Goals 

The holidays come and go just like that, but make sure your health doesn’t do the same. After the holidays, make a list of health and exercise goals for the next year and try to stick to it. Trying not to break New Year’s resolutions is something we all struggle with, but remind yourself daily that you will look and feel better by sticking with it.

For more advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, visit

Sage Barnard is a student writer for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Cooperative Extension.