My dad had his massive heart attack on the morning of Christmas Eve. He was working crazy hours to meet deadlines before taking a break over the holidays. He hadn’t done his Christmas shopping. My mom later found his list – he had planned to do it that day. It was the most difficult time I have ever experienced, and the fact that it happened at a time of year that is supposed to be the happiest made it that much more trying for my family.

The main reason I am so passionate about health and fitness is because I lost my father to a disease that can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle. It continues to be my mission to help people realize how important it is to reduce stress, exercise and eat right. These are pretty simple things to do really, but it’s amazing how people think a heart attack or stroke won’t happen to them. It’s this kind of denial that prevents people from seeking medical help when they’re feeling symptoms. At this time of year there are so many stressors that weigh heavily on us. Not to mention the overindulging in holiday treats and alcohol!

Studies have shown that the number of cardiac deaths is higher on Dec. 25 than on any other day of the year. Second highest is Dec. 26 and third highest is Jan 1.

The study also suggests that people may put off getting medical treatment over the holidays because they don’t want to disrupt the festivities.

This is the most important time of year to stay with your exercise routine, drink in moderation and continue to make healthy eating choices. Listen to your body and get plenty of rest and relaxation. If you’re feeling a little “off”, it’s better to get checked out than leaving your family to plan your funeral over Christmas. When you’re working long hours, it’s difficult to find time to get your body moving and your blood flowing. As a Personal Trainer, I can ensure my clients are active when they’re with me but it’s so important for them to incorporate movement into their everyday activities as well.

Over the holidays, it’s even tougher to find time for regular exercise. But there are lots of fun ways to build in activity that will make a difference. Why not get the family outside for a walk after dinner and check out the festive lights. Hit the tobogganing hills! Those uphill climbs are the best and burn a lot of calories! If you have a dog, they won’t object to another walk when you need a little break from the mayhem.

I wish you all the best for a healthy, happy and fit holiday season and the best of the New Year! Give your family the most special gift of all, your presence for many, many more years!

I miss you dad xo

Lisa Forsyth is a Certified Personal Trainer and creator of CoreChair Fit, exercise routines developed for use in conjunction with the CoreChair.

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