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Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Healthy Tradition

The time of year is upon us in which seasonal customs are revisited and family traditions are carried out. My personal favorite is cutting down a Christmas tree. It is a tradition started by my parents when I was a child, and one that I have carried into adulthood and now share with my children. As a child, my focus of this tradition was on the presents that would soon be placed under the tree, but now my horizons have expanded and I recognize the health benefits that can be derived from this activity.

There is a great deal of physical activity involved with this holiday custom. First, there is the time spent walking around on uneven terrain trying to find the perfect tree. For some, this may only take 15 minutes, but I am guessing for most it is closer to 30 minutes or more. Then, you have the act of cutting down the tree which requires a great deal of upper body strength. And, finally, once down, you have the challenge of carrying the tree back to your vehicle - a feat which requires muscular strength, as well as, cardiovascular endurance.

Here is a breakdown of the potential energy you can expend partaking in this holiday tradition:*
  • Trekking around the Christmas tree farm for 30 minutes trying to find that perfect tree - 125 to 180 calories depending on speed and terrain.
  • Sawing tree trunk for 15 minutes - 125 calories.
  • Carrying tree back to your car - 143-214 calories depending on the tree's weight and the speed and distance traveled.
*Values are estimated for an individual weighing 150 pounds.

Holiday traditions are a great way for families and friends to bond and a fun way to accumulate minutes of exercise toward the recommended 150 minutes per week. Some seasonal customs inherently involve being physically active, others require creative thinking to sneak in the exercise. For instance, when baking this season, give your mixer the holiday off and try stirring ingredients by hand.

Do you have a great holiday tradition that you would like to share? Leave a comment below.

Compendium of Physical Activities

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Anonymous Bonnie said...

Cindy, now that the holidays are over, what is the best way to take off some of the weight gained during the holidays. What easy diet changes can be made to help?

December 26, 2009 at 6:47 PM 
Blogger Cindy Haskin-Popp said...


To lose the weight, you need to create a caloric deficit (eat fewer calories than you expend in a day). One pound of fat equals 3500 calories. According to the American College of Sports Medicine's Resource Manual for Guideline's for Exercise Testing and Prescription, you need to have a 500 calorie deficit per day for one week to loose one pound of body fat in a week's time (double this if you want to lose 2 pounds/week).

The manual suggests that you decrease your energy intake by 250 calories while increasing your energy expenditure by 250 calories daily to achieve this goal. Dietary changes can involve eliminating the nonessentials in your diet for a while, such as doing away with high calorie coffee drinks or sugar pop. Swapping lower caloric, but nutrient-dense, foods at meals can also help. For example, instead of eating pancakes with butter at breakfast, opt for a slice of whole grain toasted bread with a tablespoon of apple butter.

It is recommended that you do not attempt to lose more than 1-2 pounds per week.

December 26, 2009 at 9:46 PM 

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