Healthy Holidays Challenge: Recharge With Yoga

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

Feeling frazzled by year-end tasks and celebrations? Maintaining your activity level can help. Here’s how — plus a recharging yoga flow to try.

The holidays have a way of throwing even the most dedicated health enthusiast off their game. Not this year! All month long, follow along as SilverSneakers LIVE trainer Shannon Thigpen unwraps our best tips for staying healthy, happy, and, yes, even calm during this busy time of year. Check in here and on our Facebook page for new activities to try. Here’s to your healthiest, happiest holiday season ever! 

When life gets busy, exercise is often one of the first items to land on the chopping block.  

In the short-term, it makes sense. You might “gain” an hour to accomplish a few extra errands or make dates with friends and family. But in the long-term, you may be losing more than you think.  

“Exercise is a powerful mood regulator,” says SilverSneakers LIVE trainer Shannon Thigpen. “It can help you unwind and recharge so that you’re able to do more of the things you have on your to-do and want-to-do lists.” 

Here are three things to keep in mind before you decide to skip a workout when your calendar starts to fill.   

Emotional well-being and fitness go together! With SilverSneakers, you can choose from dozens of different Community classes, visit a participating fitness location, or join one of our 20+ SilverSneakers LIVE online classes. Check your eligibility here. 

1. Movement = A Merrier Mood

Exercise can lead to feeling calmer, more present, and even happier. How? The American Psychological Association reports that regular exercise minimizes the effects of stress on the body and is a mood lifter. Research also shows that workouts lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine.  

One study published in the journal BMC Public Health looking at the effects of Covid lockdowns early in the pandemic found that those who exercised regularly showed more emotional resilience than those who were sedentary. Researchers added that this was true regardless of other factors known to boost resilience, such as sleep quality. 

Cleveland Clinic adds that exercise can not only improve your mood, but it also produces numerous other health effects that add to mental wellbeing, such as better blood sugar control and lower blood pressure. 

2. Fitness Revs Your Energy Levels

When you’re rushing, rushing, rushing, it’s easy to get to the point of burnout. You may have a long list of tasks from shopping to cooking to volunteering, and then in the middle of the day, you feel like your fuel tank is empty.  

It might sound counterintuitive but putting what energy is left toward exercising won’t make you even more fatigued — it acts as a fill-up for your mind and body.  

That’s because you’re creating changes at a cellular level, according to Harvard Medical School. Physical exertion prompts your body to become more efficient at turning what you eat into energy. It even improves how you breathe. That’s another major factor for staying alert, since more oxygen circulating in your body lets you function better and use energy the right way.  

3. Once You Stop Being Active, It’s Tough to Restart

If only it were possible to bookmark your fitness level. That way, you could take a couple weeks — or a couple months — off from regular exercise and pick it up right where you left off. 

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  

Being more sedentary causes your body to adjust in a certain way. It’s called deconditioning. In the same way you’ve built up your strength and endurance over time, your body can head in the other, less positive direction. The result is diminished strength, mobility, and capacity for exercise. Truly, this is a “use it or lose it” situation.  

How to Use the Chair Yoga Flow to Recharge  

If you’re wondering how to keep fitting exercise into a schedule that’s getting increasingly booked up, here’s the good news: You don’t need much time to reap the benefits.  

In fact, all you need to recharge is about 10 minutes, says Thigpen.   

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“Doing an option like a seated yoga flow sequence is a great way to start the day with gentle stretching that stress proofs the morning ahead,” she says. “Or you could use it whenever you feel your afternoon energy dipping too low.”   

In general, taking more time for yourself and your fitness is worth putting on your calendar and keeping it there — not just during the holidays, but all year round. 

Ready to reboot? Just press play on the video above to follow along with Shannon.  

As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition (including osteoporosis), balance issues, or injuries, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely. 

Bonus Challenge: Take a SilverSneakers Yoga Class 

Move through seated and standing yoga poses to increase flexibility, balance, and range of motion. A chair is used to meet a variety of fitness levels. It’s offered both in-person at participating fitness locations (check with the gym for dates and times) and online through SilverSneakers LIVE. View the current schedule and RSVP here. 

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