Well Being

Exercise Won’t Help You With Holiday Weight Gain

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holiday weight gain santa clauseOh, were you planning on burning off the excess calories you consumed last night? If so, then according to a new study published in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, you are one foolish turkey…one foolish and soon to be chubby turkey.

Researchers followed 100 women and 48 men (Oh wow, such a significant number of participants) aged between 18 and 65 for the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years. Half of those studied were seriously committed to fitness and workout for about 5 hours a week (almost doubling the amount recommended by the American Heart Association), while the other half copped to being more sedentary. The participants were weighed and measured, tested for body fat percentage and blood pressure.

The results indicate that people gain an average of one and a half pounds on average during the six-week holiday season. Men tend to gain around two pounds and women just over one pound. That number may seem insignificant, but it could result in what Health Day calls “weight creep.” Annually, people gain about two pounds that they never take off, making the “weight creep” some sort of 2 pound boogey man who attaches himself to your ass and never leaves. After 10 years the two pound boogey man has compounded to be 20 pounds. So what are we supposed to do? Are we doomed? Maybe.

The bad or good news for those trying to keep their weight down, starting weight is the best indicator of how much weight would be put on over the holiday season. Those who were obese at the start of the study gained the most weight and had the most significant increase in body fat percentage. The really bad news is that exercise seemingly had “no significant impact on holiday weight gain” for reasons unbeknownst be the researchers, partially because they admittedly “didn't have enough participants to detect small differences in weight change between exercisers and non-exercisers.” The scientists do speculate that those who compensate for extra festive calories with exercise end up consuming more than they can burn off.

The moral of this holiday fable: moderation is king, but don't stop working out just because it won't help you keep a few pounds at bay. The fit faction of the study maintained better blood pressure throughout the holidays than the couch potatoes.

I know better than anyone that even a mere 0.3 lb increase on the scale can send some people into a self hating spiral of doom, but try to not let it take over your life if you do gain weight.

via Health Day//Image via The Santa Clause (1994)

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