By Dr. Samer Koutoubi
Program Director, Public Health at American Public University
As you sit down to enjoy the festivities of Thanksgiving Day, and the upcoming holiday season family get-togethers, parties, and shopping, you may experience difficulties maintaining a normal exercise schedule and training regimen. Don’t let the holidays take over, start planning a workout a schedule in advance to maintain your overall health for the holidays.
Did you know that you can burn a lot of calories while walking? An average person who weighs 180 pounds can burn 100 calories per mile while walking. So let’s walk off the weight during the holidays! Also, eating healthy and burning calories can help you lose weight and protect you against chronic diseases. Make a game of it. See how many calories you can burn during your daily activities around the house. For online students, this is a great habit to keep; especially during intense weeks of nothing by studying and sitting in front of the computer. Making the time to get up and move are vital to your health.
Having a safe place to exercise and walk is very important to every community in the United States. Physical activity should be integrated in our daily life activities and must be considered a priority for all ages. So ask yourself, do you have a walkable community? What can you do to promote this idea in your community? The Surgeon General suggests action through, “Step It Up!” This call to action includes the following five strategic goals:
- Make walking a national priority.
- Design communities that are safe and easy to walk.
- Promote programs and policies to support walking throughout the day.
- Provide information to encourage walking and improve walkability.
- Fill gaps in surveillance, research, and evaluation related to walking and walkability.
The current physical activity guidelines for adults calls for at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week. Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity daily. To learn more about The Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Report, 2008 and meeting summaries, please visit their website. So after you’ve enjoyed your meal, take a walk with a couple family members.
Americans aren’t getting enough exercise. Remember, it is a fun and wonderful opportunity to get the entire family, young and old, to walk together in their communities. It is a great time to share stories, reduce stress, share what you’ve learned in your classes, and learn from each others experiences. By layering in conversation, or company, with your exercise routine it will make the time go by faster, and is a great way to reduce stress.
In summary, maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the holidays is key to preventing chronic diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer. These changes include dietary changes, increased physical activity, and stress reduction. Every community should offer a safe walkable place for their citizens, free of pollution with good air quality and with a family friendly environment where children and elderly feel welcomed.
About the Author
Dr. Koutoubi earned his PhD in Dietetics and Nutrition from Florida International University in 2001. He earned his MD degree in 1988 from Iuliu HaÈ›ieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Dr. Koutoubi’s research focuses on coronary heart disease among tri-ethnic groups including African Americans, Caucasians, and Hispanics. His interest is in disease prevention and wellness, epidemiological research, cardiovascular disease and nutrition, homocysteine metabolism, lipoprotein metabolism, and cultural food and health. He has also authored a number of articles in peer-reviewed journals and wrote a book review. He served as the Editor-in-Chief for The Internet Journal of Alternative Medicine and reviewed manuscripts for The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Ethnicity and Disease Journal, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and The Journal of The National Medical Association. Dr. Koutoubi has also been quoted in national magazines and newspapers including, Natural Health Magazine, Energy Time, Well Being Journal, Northwest Prime Time, and Natural Food Merchandiser.