It might be better if we walked over the river and through the wood to get grandmother's house for Thanksgiving. The physical activity would burn off calories and help prevent weight gain during a season of eggnog temptations and apple pie seductions.
"One reason for weight gain over the holiday season is limited physical activity," says Beth Glace, MS, a Research Associate and Sports Nutritionist from Lenox Hill Hospital's Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma (NISMAT). "We take in excess calories, but we don't burn them off. With that type of equation, you end up with added pounds."
The bad news about holiday weight gain is that it tends to stick. A study in a major medical journal a few years ago showed that study participants tended to retain the weight gained over the holidays and that already obese patients were those most likely to put on four or five pounds over the holidays. More than half of Americans are overweight, and excess weight sets the stage for heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
The study also identified only one other factor besides hunger that may influence holiday weight gain: amount of physical activity.
The fact is that calories are taken in much more easily than they are burned off. For example, it will take two hours of leaf raking to burn off the 400 calories in a single slice of apple pie, a nearly hour-long walk to use up the 340 calories in an 8 oz. cup of egg nog, and an hour's worth of cross country skiing to get rid of the 420 calories in a cup-size serving of stuffing.
"There are only two ways to manage the consumption of extra calories," explains Glace. "Either don?t overeat in the first place, or burn them off with extra physical activity."
Here are some lifestyle modifications from Glace to help you keep the pounds at bay:
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