Right now Santa is making the final preparations for his big night, from checking his list of good boys and girls to packing the toys in the sleigh and giving the reindeer a pep talk. As we can only imagine, a trip around the world in one night is quite a physical feat, so, like an athlete preparing for the Olympics, Santa has certainly been training all year for this event.
Of course, Santa keeps his training regimen a secret. In my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week I make an educated guess as what he does to prepare in the “offseason” and how this training helps him maintain good health despite his less-than-athletic physique. Santa’s training likely includes a combination of endurance, strength, and flexibility exercises.
Endurance training, probably a combination of both high-intensity interval training and long-duration, lower intensity training, leads to a high maximal aerobic capacity and fatigue resistance. Proof for this is the fact that he flies away from each home with a hearty “ho, ho, ho.” If he were out of shape, he would be too short of breath to speak, much less give such a robust farewell!
Resistance training gives him the strength to repeatedly carry his heavy sack of gifts up and down chimneys. In addition to traditional weight lifting, Santa probably also engages in plyometric training, which involves explosive movements that develop muscle power.
Stretching and exercises like yoga promote good flexibility so he can squeeze through narrow spaces and move quickly without pulling a muscle.
Santa certainly knows that proper training is only part of the answer, so he certainly focuses on sports nutrition, too. Many athletes use specialized sports drinks and foods that provide fluid, carbohydrates, and protein during long events. Santa relies on the cookies and milk you leave for him to provide the nutrients his muscles need to delay fatigue.
We can also learn an important health lesson from Santa. Even though he is overweight, through regular exercise, Santa has reduced his risk of health problems and maintained his fitness at a level that allows him to complete his necessary activities. Like Santa, all of us can benefit from being physically active, whether we are overweight or not.