We all live for our weekends. And what would we do without them, right? They’re a wondrous break from the weekday grind.
But for some of us, weekends can set us days back from the health goals we’ve worked so hard at during the work week. We often stay out later, indulge ourselves in burgers, pizza, and beer – and let our exercise routines slide.
Of course, the inner hedonist that lives inside of all of us thinks it’s great, but unfortunately what goes on during the weekend doesn’t stay there. In truth, overindulging and letting loose for a couple of days leaves us with unwanted baggage that we carry with us into the next week.
In simpler terms, much of the hard work that we put in during the week can be rendered completely moot in the timespan between Friday evening at happy hour and Sunday brunch.
So, from your diet to your sleep schedule to exercise, if you’re looking to maintain some of that healthy momentum that you have going from the work week through the weekend, here are some simple ways to do it.
1) Don’t Dump the Alarm
Everyone knows how glorious it feels to hit the snooze button until 11 AM. However, most of are well aware that we often feel even more tired after doing this. Researchers at the University of Arizona – Tucson have evidence which supports this hunch. They found that “social jet lag,” – the difference that happens between our body’s biological clock and the schedules we maintain during the weekend because of social activities – actually makes us more fatigued and makes our moods worse than they would have been if we simply maintained a constant sleep schedule throughout the whole week.
The study also discovered that altering your sleep schedule on weekends can result in more drastic health consequences. For example, scientists found that for every hour that the sleep schedule is altered, you increase your risk of heart disease by 11 percent.
Waking up at the same time each and every morning may be easier said than done. After all, after a long hard week, what sounds better than lying in bed on a Saturday morning? Try scheduling something fun – a hike, a coffee date, or perhaps a message – that you can look forward to so you can get your butt out of bed.
2) Be Social
Being social during the work week can be difficult. Most of us have so many obligations – both with work and family – that make finding time for social activities almost impossible. But, in case you didn’t already know, your hermit-like nature could be hurting your health.
Everyone knows that socializing is essential to maintain mental and emotional well-being, but did you know that it’s also good for neurological function.
The American Journal of Public Health published a study which found that older women who maintained large social circles actually decreased their risk of developing dementia and postponed or prevented cognitive decline. Another study conducted by scientists from the
Harvard School of Public Health discovered that individuals who maintain and robust social life through their 50s and 60s actually had slower rates of memory decline compared individuals who were more isolated.
So, if you don’t want your brain to atrophy prematurely, don’t sit at home alone too much! Get out and make genuine human connections and keep them.
3) Stay Physically Active – Move Your Body
Research has shown people log the most exercise on Monday and the least Friday through Sunday. It’s not surprising that as the week progresses many people lose their steam. But when next Friday rolls around, consider skipping the sangria, lacing up your Nike trainers, and heading out for a run. Staying active during the weekend can help to combat weight gain that many people see on Monday following a weekend of excess.
If you can’t make it to the gym on Saturday or Sunday afternoon, mix it up a little and take your workout outside. Go on a hike, run by the beach, swim in a lake, go rock climbing, or go kayaking. Your body will thank you for the exercise and your brain will reward you with an improved mood, increased focus, and lower levels of anxiety and depression.