7 tips for staying healthy this festive season

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Staying healthy throughout the festive system can be difficult when there are multiple parties and late night functions with indulgent food and drinks to tempt you.

But all is not lost this Christmas.

Business Insider reached out to Dr Anthony Blazevich, associate professor in biomechanics and a director at the School of Exercise and Health Sciences at Western Australia’s Edith Cowan University, to find out what strategies he suggests to maintain balance and wellbeing during the festive season.

From maintaining your activity levels to strategies for keeping your alcohol intake in check, here are his 7 tips to help you welcome in the new year healthily and happily.

1. Christmas should not be a ‘let go’ period.

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“There is no reason to gain ‘weight’ or compromise health over the Xmas period,” says Blazevich.

Just because it’s a time of celebrations you should still be aware that changing your daily habits too much could result in unnecessarily eight gain.

2. Use the break to reduce stress

“It’s a good time to de-stress, which has important health benefits,” says Blazevich.

He explains that this is done largely by reducing stress-related inflammation, which is associated with greater risk for depression, heart disease and infectious diseases.

3. It’s summer in Australia. Get some sunshine

Blazevich suggests using the opportunity to get sunlight for vitamin D.

“Vitamin D is essential for immune function and a lack of it is linked to an increased risk of many cancers as well as cardiovascular disease,” he says.

“But remember to get your sunlight responsibly, more isn’t better, especially when the UV range is ‘high’ or greater.

“Exercising early mornings and late evenings is a great way to get the vitamin D.”

4. Walk to parties if you can, and play with the kids

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“Walk to parties/functions, and stand as often as you can,” says Blazevich, “prolonged sitting is a killer.”

He also suggests getting the kids, if you have them, to help you out.

“‘Play’ at any opportunity, with your kids, with other people’s kids, with your pets, in the water at the beach, whatever,” he says.

“Play is exercise, and exercise saves lives.”

5. Eat all the fruit baskets

“Make the most of the incredible fruits and vegies on offer at this time of year,” he says.

“Every meal should have lots of colours in order to get antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Enjoy the eating experience.”

But remember: try not to overindulge.

6. Swap the beer for an occasional vodka & soda, and keep going on the canapes

“Excess alcohol consumption is an issue in itself because of its effects on liver function and systemic inflammation,” he says, “but it is possible to limit other factors that contribute to the health problems associated with alcohol consumption.

“For example, replace sugary wines, beers and spirits with mixers with spirits mixed with water (or soda water) and lime, sip nice spirits without mixers, consider lower-calorie beers, and always eat whilst drinking.”

7. Get enough sleep.

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With many commitments and events over be Christmas and New Year period, regular sleeping patterns can be interrupted.

While he can’t get you more time in the day, Blazevich suggests adjusting what you have control over, when trying to get improved shut eye.

“In order to help with sleep, try to stop drinking well before bed time,” he says. “Alcohol interferes with sleep patterns so that any sleep is less effective.

“[Also] allow yourself a sleep-in whenever you can to catch up on lost sleep.”

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