Taking the holidays in stride

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dillon White
  • 341st Space Wing Public Affairs Office
Holiday gatherings and dropping temperatures can lead to lack of exercise and indulgent consumption of items like hot cocoa and green bean casserole. 

This in turn can add inches to waistlines and deeper depressions in the living-room sofa, but there is an alternative. 

"Just because it's cold outside doesn't mean people can't go outside and exercise," said Kelley Suggs, Malmstrom Health and Wellness Center health education program manager. "Cross-country skiing and snow shoeing are fun ways to get cardiovascular exercise in the winter." 

These activities provide a cardiovascular workout, while downhill skiing or snowboarding does not, Ms. Suggs said. 

"You work harder and you probably won't be sipping hot cocoas in the chalet all afternoon when you go cross-county skiing or snow shoeing," she said. 

Montana has many areas to cross-country ski, Ms. Suggs said. 

"The Silver Crest Trails at Kings Hill Recreation Area parking lot off Highway 89 are great and people should also check out places like Yellowstone, Glacier National Park or the O'Brien Creek Ski Trail," she said. 

Cross country skiing is hard at first, but when you find a rhythm and are able to take in the sights and sounds of nature around you, it's awesome, Ms. Suggs said. 

Outdoor Recreation has cross-country skis and snow shoes available for rent. Snow shoes currently cost $4.50 per day to rent, and cross-country skis cost $11 per day. 

Other alternatives include sledding, going to the gym or the HAWC, Ms. Suggs said. The HAWC also has yoga and aerobic exercise videos available for rent at no cost. 

People should wear layers of clothing when exercising in cold weather so as body temperature rises, layers can be removed to prevent excessive sweating, said Jacqueline Maillet, Malmstrom HAWC dietician and avid runner. 

"I run in the winter a lot, and you should dress so that you feel slightly cold because when you run, you will warm up. When you wear too much clothing you will sweat more and your clothes will no longer act as insulation," Ms. Maillet said. 

People who choose to exercise outdoors in cold weather should be aware of frost bite, wind chill and carry winter survival gear as well. 

"The more muscle mass you have, the warmer you will stay," Ms. Suggs said. "For people interested in swimming, there is a natatorium in the local area." 

Holiday meals 

Exercising during the winter months, while beneficial, will not make up for poor eating habits or drinking alcoholic beverages in excess. 

This does not mean people should deprive themselves of sweet potatoes or pumpkin pie, but it does mean perhaps one trip to the buffet table is enough. 

"People should eat breakfast before attending a holiday party," Ms. Maillet said. "Starving yourself before a party will only promote over-eating once you are there." 

Smaller portions and eating throughout the day is not the only way to keep control of calorie intake, Ms. Suggs said. 

"A handful of almonds can contain about 170 calories," Ms. Suggs said. "A shot of liquor can contain 100 calories." 

Be aware of what a serving size is and portion out snacks ahead of time in separate bags, Ms. Maillet said. 

"Drink plenty of water to help your body process the food you eat as well," she said. 

According to the American Dietetic Association, having a plan will prevent over-eating at holiday gatherings. This plan includes eating a small breakfast with whole grains, fruit, dairy products and protein; eating snacks throughout the day; and carefully selecting the food you will eat, sample or skip. 

For more information on a healthy diet, go to www.mypyramid.gov

For more information on cross country skiing and snow shoeing ,go to wintermt.com

For more information on current activities sponsored by Outdoor Recreation, go to www.341services.com

For information on upcoming running events in Montana, go to www.runmt.com