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Austin YMCA: Santa Claus visits the Y

Mark your calendars. Santa Claus is coming to the Y for Family Fun Night on Nov. 30. There will cookie decorating, photos with Santa, a bounce house and pool and gymnastic gym hours. The event is 6 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. and is free for members; $15 for a non-member family.

Keep working out

The holidays are here, and many of us are already making excuses not to work out. You think there is no harm in stopping your workout and restart after the New Year?

But don't stop with the intention of picking it up later! Maintaining the momentum of your regular exercise routine is much easier than trying to re-establish it at a later date. In addition, de-training occurs quite rapidly, and it's always better to shift to maintenance workouts than to stop altogether and lose some of the benefits that you've worked so hard to gain.

Although it's tempting to throw exercise by the wayside, especially when the holidays place even more demands on already hectic schedules, continue to make it a priority. Exercise can be a valuable tool to fight the difficulties of the coming season. Check out some of the benefits:


Holiday weight gain

Research has shown that the holidays are a high-risk time for gaining weight. Exercise can combat this risk is by expending calories and contributing to a negative caloric balance, and maintaining muscle mass and thereby sustaining metabolic rate.

Holiday stress

The holiday season, although typically joyous, can be stressful ... added shopping, increased food preparation, house guests and frequent visitors, financial stress, more demands on our time, and simply a change in schedule. Exercise reduces stress by releasing "feel good" endorphins. In addition, it provides an outlet to release built-up stress that, if left to its own accord, can lead to overeating.

Seasonal depression

As we approach the winter solstice, the season chips away at our daylight hours. For many people, this can lead to varying degrees of seasonal depression.

Although exercise can't make the days longer, it can reduce depressive symptoms and elevate mood. An outdoor workout at the noon hour provides additional benefits by increasing sunlight exposure.

Exercise provides structure


A primary benefit of maintaining your exercise routine is the addition of structure to your day. One of the main culprits associated with stress, depression, and weight gain is a reduction in structure. By maintaining your exercise routine in the face of increasing demands, you are providing stability and comfort to yourself.

Daily routines help us stay on track with our food intake, stabilize our circadian rhythms, aid in maintenance of sleep schedules, and provide a stable backdrop to our day — thereby offering a framework in which we can prioritize the demands put upon us.

In the hectic days ahead, don't forget to give yourself the gift of exercise!

Kristi Stasi is fitness director for the Austin YMCA.

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