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Fitness – Good for the Body and Oh So Much More

10 awesome benefits of exercising during the Holidays (that have nothing to do with weight!)

By a show of hands, who has ever felt like “The most wonderful time of the year” is also “the most difficult time of year to exercise”?

Well you’re not alone. And we get it! Who wants to wake up early on a cold dark morning to jog, especially when you’ve got an ugly sweater party to plan and a stack of greeting cards that still need signing? Plus, it’s normal to gain a few extra holiday pounds, right?

It turns out there’s more to exercising during the holidays than just your waistline. Check out these 10 surprising benefits to getting up and moving around. We should note, they actually have nothing to do with weight loss. How about that?

1. Beat the Winter Blues

Approaching the winter solstice means less hours of sunlight in the day, and more reason to feel down with the winter blues. Luckily beating those blues can be as easy as taking a lunchtime walk. People who exercise just 30 minutes a day and have 20 minutes of sun exposure are known to have lower rates of depression during the winter. Plus, a little suntan during the winter time doesn’t hurt!

2. Holiday Mental Detox

Gift shopping, cookie baking, family drama. We all know that as happy as the season may be, it often brings stress along with it. But by carving out a little time for exercise, you can release hormones that will boost your mood and calm your anxiety. So next time you feel like you’re up to your neck in wrapping paper, don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. Your body and mind will thank you!

3. Maintain Momentum

With the New Year just around the corner, it’s easy to tell yourself you can throw in the towel now and start a new resolution later. But even just two weeks of choosing Netflix over yoga class can have a big impact on your body – losing all the cardiovascular gains you’ve worked for. So, rule of thumb: a little exercise is better than no exercise! Even if you cut back to a shorter session or just one per week, it’s easier to maintain your momentum than it is to stop and start from scratch.

4. Create Structure

Sure, freedom and spontaneity are great, but we as humans need structure too! Without a routine, we are much more prone to stress and feeling down. Planning ahead for a daily exercise can help you feel more organized, sleep better, eat healthier, and be better able to prioritize all the demands on your life during the holidays. 

5. Boost Your Social Life

Of course, friends can help you keep up with exercise. But exercise can also help you keep up friendships! A weekly running or rock-climbing date means a regular chance to catch up, take a break from holiday madness, and even share a healthy post-workout snack. Want to really bond with your friend? Try something new together, like a Pilates class or a boot camp, that way you won’t be at it alone. Want to find new friends? Become a regular at your gym, or join an exercise group. You’ll find a whole community of people with a common interest.

6. Be Healthy in Ways the Scale Can’t Show

Even if you never shed an ounce of weight, your body will still have a million reasons to thank you for exercising. Some of the proven benefits are: stronger bones, more quality sleep, a healthier heart, a decreased risk of stroke, improved stamina in between the sheets, and even improved fertility rates.

7. Let Your Creativity Soar

Good ideas come when you least expect it, like when you’re mindlessly working up a sweat for example. Your brain goes into a relaxed zen-like state, working its magic behind the scenes. So, don’t be surprised if you suddenly think of the perfect gift for your grandma while you’re on the treadmill, or come up with a solution for an office project after saying “namaste.”

8. Keep Yourself Young

The rumors are true; the fountain of youth is real! And it goes by the name of “regular exercise.” Studies show exercise can slow the aging process within the cells of our bodies. Each strand of our DNA has a protective cap called a telomere – like the coating on the end of a shoelace. The more they wear out, the quicker we age, and people who exercise have longer telomeres. Even if you don’t enter a gym until later in life, you still could reverse or slow down the process. You may not live forever, but could have a chance to increase your life expectancy. Pretty neat! #AgingGoals

9. Love Your Body!

Exercise is the best way to celebrate your body and all the incredible things it can do! The more you exercise, the more you will boost your confidence. Just the simple act of getting up and moving around is proven to help increase positive self-image, regardless of reaching any weight goals. So, remember happiness isn’t measured by how you look in the mirror—but rather improving your max pushups or best mile time. How many steps have you clocked in today? Those stairs don't look too bad now, huh?

10. Become a Rockstar at Life

Probably the most impressive benefit of exercise has nothing to do with your body, and everything to do with your mind. When you consistently push through tough sets of lunges or strenuous uphill runs, you reshape your brain’s reaction to discomfort. As a result, you could tolerate more stress in all aspects of life. So while your relatives are having holiday meltdowns, you're the one who can #KeepCalmAndCarryOn for the rest of them.

– The goodNes Crew

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