Health and Wellness: Everything in Moderation—Holiday Edition
November and December can be difficult months for anyone to remain healthy, let alone a busy dental student. The combination of holiday cheer and final exam stress can spiral into excess eating and less time dedicated to working out. It’s easy to get caught up in the holidays, enjoying pumpkin spice lattes, turkey dinners, and Christmas cookies. Pair that with the cold weather making us more lethargic and less likely to exercise, and we’re setting our bodies up for failure. I often hear from fellow dental students who say they just “don’t have time” to exercise, and although our schedules are brutally hectic, making the time to care for your body and mind should be at the top of everyone’s holiday “to do” list.
To put things into perspective, the average person consumes about 3,000 calories on Thanksgiving Day alone! Couple that with holiday parties and late night snacking in the library studying, and it can become quite easy to put on a few pounds. Balancing all of the unhealthy, excessive eating with exercising can do wonders for the maintenance of our bodies. Here are a few fun ways to burn off those pesky holiday calories:
Yoga/stretching: 179 calories burned per hour
Strength training (light): 215 calories burned per hour
Dancing: 344 calories burned per hour
Walking (briskly): 358 calories burned per hour
Shoveling snow: 430 calories burned per hour
Bowling: 215 calories burned per hour
Group aerobics: 465 calories burned per hour
Stationary cycling: 501 calories burned per hour
Circuit training: 573 calories burned per hour
Cross-country skiing: 573 calories burned per hour
Running (5 mph): 573 calories burned per hour
Physical activity isn’t just beneficial to our bodies. Taking the time to sweat can also help our brains perform more efficiently and reduce stress. An article from The Scientific American states, “Research shows that when we exercise, blood pressure and blood flow increase everywhere in the body, including the brain. More blood means more energy and oxygen, which makes our brain perform better.” The article also touches on how working up a sweat enhances our mental capacity because the hippocampus (the part of the brain critical for learning and memory) is highly active during exercise. Another recent study even concluded that students who exercise perform better on tests than their less physically active peers.
So, whether your motivation to exercise stems from a desire to burn off those holiday calories or to get your mind ready for that final exam, just get out there and sweat!