During the holiday season, physical activity helps relax from holiday stress, say experts. "When times get crazy, the thing people give up is exercise, and that's the key thing a person needs. When a person is excitable from stress, the burst of energy that you get from exercise can help burn the adrenaline off and calm you down," Erica Christ, RD, CDE, an exercise physiologist at Greenwich Hospital's Weight Loss and Diabetes Center, said.
"Exercise allows you time to focus, and gives you a sense of mindfulness that makes the other pieces of your life fall into place," Christ added.
Physical activity also stimulates the neurotransmitter dopamine, which has been linked to post-exercise mood improvement more effectively than antidepressant medications.
It's commonly understood that physical activity is an essential part of any overall health plan.
For the Center, Erica Christ uses Pilates, a form of exercise that incorporates graceful movement to build flexibility, muscle strength and endurance while supporting the body's core abdominal and lower back area.
"The physical benefit of Pilates goes beyond strengthening the abs, back, shoulders and buttocks. There is also the importance of concentration and mind-body awareness. Plus there are no pressure joints. It's a very safe, very powerful workout," Christ said.
Being tri-credentialed as an exercise physiologist, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, Christ understands the intricate dance that goes on between food, motion and metabolism.
She helps clients learn how to fuel their bodies with energy for their specific lifestyle needs.
"The biggest goal is to teach people how to use exercise as a way to de-stress from the outside world," she said.
"It's the ability to use an hour to turn off the rest of the world and focus on the task at hand.
"You become empowered while you're doing it, and that empowerment is motivation for overall self-improvement," she added.