Christmas is here and for most seniors it is the most wonderful time of the year with parties, family visits decorations galore, and countless other holiday happenings and traditions.
Christmas, however, can be a time when commitments to wellness go awry.
It is important, therefore, for everyone — especially seniors — to keep up the commitment to staying healthy throughout the holiday season.
“If the senior is already engaging in healthy behaviors like exercising and eating a sensible diet, the most important behavior I would encourage for them during the holidays is to continue with their normal schedule,” said Amy Stanfield, Ph.D., chair of the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Jackson County.
Breaking the commitment to healthy living can have negative consequences, even something as simple as consuming hoilday treats.
“The overconsumption of sugar can have devastating effects on the immune system,” said Dr. Jim Fox, co-owner of Doctor’s Nutrition in Gulfport.
Fox advises people to keep the sweets to a minimum.
In addition to keeping to a normal routine and diet, both Stanfield and Fox encourage seniors to remain active, both physically and socially, throughout the holiday season.
Some seniors may find this time of year challenging. With fewer sunlight hours in the day and sometimes a chill in the air, and there is a tendency to “hibernate,” which could, according to Fox, lead to mild depression.
Stanfield encourages families to identify introverted individuals who may not have a large social circle and to invite them to holiday gatherings.
“The more the merrier,” she said.
Merry-making is what the holidays should be about. Putting oneself on a good path during the holidays in terms of wellness can be fun.
Fox advises people to add holiday music to their workout routines, to find friends to take walks with and to make exercise and nutrition a priority throughout holiday season.
“Health is important 12 months of the year,” Fox said.
Even if you take a holiday, the doctors advise, your health should not.
“Be active. Be healthy. Get good sleep. Hydrate. Enjoy other people. Delegate responsibilities when feeling overwhelmed,” Stanfield said.