Holidays are the perfect time to get physical

Health & Fitness column

Again this month, let me remind you about the great benefits of getting your annual flu shot. Not only will you be protected against the flu, but you will also protect those around you. There is still time to get it and easier than ever. I was just talking to a nurse at a pediatrics office and she told me that she recommends that you get your flu shot before the end of the November, so although it is now Dec. 2, still close enough to run out and get one. You won’t have to run far, because you can get them at Publix, CVS, Walgreen’s and the health department, just to name a few. So, if you haven’t gotten yours yet or your kid’s flu shot, lace up those sneakers and run right out.

Now that we are talking about lacing up your sneakers, I want to give you some ideas and suggestions about exercise this time of the year. The month of December is usually that time of year when we say, “Oh, New Year’s is right around the corner so I am going to enjoy this time and eat what I want and slack off on my exercise routine.” It’s so easy to say, but so hard to get back on track once the new year rolls around.

So, of course, my first bit of advice is to not get off track at all, even if you can’t get to the gym as much as you normally do or you skip a few days of an exercise class. No need to worry, just don’t use the excuse of it is the holidays and I will start again after the New Year. This is a trap that so many people get into and then it just seems to steamroll and, before you know it, it is spring and you can’t fit into those shorts you wore last year. In order for this scenario to not happen to you, my 100 percent effective recommendation is to do something active throughout this holiday season.

There are plenty of options to get some physical activity right here in Albany. Just going outside to play with the kids or grandkids will do wonders for your waistline and also combat any holiday stress.

We are fortunate to live in a climate that allows us to be outside engaging in physical activity all year round. I have mentioned in my previous columns all the parks and recreation areas in Albany and this time of year is a great time to visit. The summer crowds are gone and they offer a chance to “play” like a kid again — with your kids, of course.

But you can stay right in your own yard or house for that matter and get some activity in. Simple things like building an obstacle course in the yard (or inside on cold or rainy days) will give you all something to do together and have fun at the same time (and get in some activity).

Kids will do anything that gives them the opportunity to be creative and get adults to participate with them. I have built many obstacle courses in my yard with my three kids. Some ideas are using jump ropes and having to jump a certain amount of time, dribbling a basketball so many times, throwing a Frisbee until it crosses a line, running around cones, riding a bike so far and having to turn around. These are just a few that we have used, but if you let your kids think of different obstacle course events, you will be surprised with what they come up with and before you know it, you all have been outside running around and getting in some physical activity.

This is what we all want to do, have fun while being active. So, I hope you all can relax and enjoy the holidays and don’t forget to get in that much needed physical activity.

Dr. Kirsten Lupinski is an assistant professor at Albany State University in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department. She has a B.S. in Nutrition from the University of North Carolina, an M.S. in Health Education from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate in Education from the University of Cincinnati. She has worked in the health education field in various capacities (corporate health, community health, college health and wellness and university education) for more than 15 years. She and her husband have three young children (5-year-old twin sons and a 2-year-old daughter).