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Stay healthy through the holiday season

December 23, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
It's the most dangerous time of the year: During the holidays, people tend to have the most unhealthy behavior. Doctors say if you want to make into the new year, you have to watch yourself. Here's how to give yourself the gift of better health this holiday season.Doctors call Christmas and New Year's two of the most dangerous days of the year.

"So when you're talking about heart attacks and strokes, those are actually the dates that seem to be the worst for people," said Huntington Hospital internal medicine specialist Dr. John de Beixedon.

Many people are under a lot of stress, so they tend to overdo it.

"'It's a holiday, I'm going to live it up.' Unfortunately, even on holidays our diseases aren't taking holidays," said de Beixedon.

So de Bexeidon recommends people give themselves a present by sticking to five healthy holiday behaviors.

"Especially if you have any history of heart failure, it's a very good idea to avoid salt," said de Beixedon. "Don't have a huge piece of Virginia ham."

Take it easy on the fat and sugar as well.

"You have to live life with a little more moderation because you want to make it to next Christmas," said de Beixedon.

The holidays are when you mix and mingle with family and friends. Everyone greets each other with a hug and kiss, and that's when infection spreads.

"If Uncle Larry is out there coughing and phlegm is flying out of his mouth, you probably want to stay away from Uncle Larry," said de Beixedon. "Or hand him a surgical mask and say, 'Can you wear this around the baby?'"

And if you're not working out, you can make up for that.

"If you get up and then you sit down, and then you get up again to go get your food, you've just done a squat. Curiously, if people do that every time they get up and down, the average person will do 10,000 squats a year," said de Beixedon.

Another holiday healthy behavior: Attend a religious service.

"There are studies that show when people go to church, they usually have a lower incidence of depression, and they usually have better overall health," said de Beixedon.

If you want to indulge in something, experts say express your emotions -- share love and joy. It's good for you and your health.

"Get out there and enjoy your family," said de Beixedon. "Best of all, enjoy yourself. It may be in moderation, in terms of food and drink, but you can still enjoy yourself. You can have fun without hurting your body.