Hustle your body to get in shape for the new year

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Add some huff and puff to your vacuuming.

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Make a mad dash from the car for that last-minute Christmas gift.

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Blend some gusto to your morning romp with your pup or game of tag with your kids.

If you want to live longer, pick up the pace! Tiny spurts of vigorous exercise throughout the day can have big health benefits, reports new research. So – hurry through your chores and the shopping!

Even movement you might not consider a workout works wonders and is linked to a 38% to 40% lower risk of dying, even when there is no other exercise at all.

Think two-minute bouts – totaling 15 minutes a week – will do it! Those who engaged in “vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity” three times a day showed a nearly 50% reduction in cardiovascular mortality risk and reduced their risk of dying from cancer by about 40%.

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Given that being time strapped is a barrier to regular exercising, accruing small amounts sporadically during the day is doable. Something is always better than nothing. And we could all use a boost to our emotional batteries.

“I do know that one to two minutes of movement every hour increases blood flow throughout our body. Blood carries oxygen and energy!” says Dr. Haley Perlus, a sport and performance psychologist.

And energy feeds our physical, mental and emotional health. Ideally, take your short spurts of exercise outside – nature is balm for our busy brains and lives.

“Fresh air is one of the best ways to create positive emotions. Get outside and spend time focusing on what you smell, then what you see, then what you hear, then what you feel,” says Perlus of drhaleyperlus.com. “This mindfulness exercise outside allows a pattern interrupt, good distraction from the chaos, and an emotional energy boost.”

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According to Dr. Jud Brewer, director of research and innovation at Brown University’s Mindfulness Center and Chief Medical Officer at Sharecare, “the more we can pay attention to the beauty of nature or simply how it feels to be moving in nature, the more we can savor the experience. This recharges our emotional batteries.”

The outdoors are transformative, offers Michele Guimond, spokesperson for MEC. “The outdoors changes lives. Being active outside challenges us, recharges us, makes us better humans, supporting deeper connection to ourselves, the community, and the environment.”

Alongside personal health benefits for physical activity, connecting in the outdoors and in wild spaces draws knowledge around the fragility of our planet and ecosystems, says Guimond, and inspires action around protecting it and engaging in actions that support the fight in the climate crisis.

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So get nurtured by nature. In Canadian winters, that means having the wherewithal to dress for outdoor success. As the temperature dips it is much more challenging to stay dry and warm, she says, so seek sophistication in layers like base layers and insulation with good outerwear shells.

Adds Perlus: “Dress warm! Seriously, dress appropriately and get outside with people you love and do fun activities.”

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Take short recovery pauses throughout the day, all day, every day, suggests Dr. Haley Perlus. “Even one minute is enough to renew energy and reset. Movement, music, meditation, breathing, etc. all recharge your emotional batteries.”

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Meditation can help with the recharging process, says mindfulness expert Dr. Jud Brewer. Meditation is part of mindfulness – learning to be with our present moment experience without trying to change it.

Find calm with Brewer’s Five Finger Breathing exercise: Hold one hand in front of you, fingers spread. Now, slowly trace the outside of your hand with the index finger on your other hand, breathing in when you trace up a finger, and out when you trace down. Move up and down all five fingers. When you’ve traced your whole hand, reverse direction and do it again.

Accept that this is an emotional time, adds Perlus. Every emotion you are experiencing is OK. No need to be anxious about your anxiety. Let the emotions come so that they can move through and leave space for positive emotions.

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Plan ahead. “When you can anticipate an anxious moment, do something for yourself first to give yourself the best chance at embracing the stress,” she says.

Fireside denim pant DUER – supplied
Fireside denim pant DUER – supplied supplied

Layer on the warmth and never come inside

  • The men’s ZoneKnit merino hoodie by Icebreaker combines casual comfort with technical performance for the perfect foundation for cold-weather layering.
  • Made for every adventure with waterproof and high-traction capabilities, the lightweight Peak II Outdry Shoe by Columbia is perfect for any trail, rain or shine.
  • Chase away the chills with the colorful Summit Grid Tunic Hoody, by Mountain Hardware, an ideal fleece mid layer that comes in a longer length for extra coverage.
insulated hoodie – supplied
insulated hoodie – supplied
  • Stay warm and cozy in the MEC Northern Light Hoodie, a minimalist jacket that packs up small – in the left hand pocket – for big adventures.
  • Take on work or play with the Fireside Denim Summit Pant by DUER that features interwoven fleece fabric technology for breathable warmth.

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