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MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Catalyst Advertisers Seminars and Events Research Studies Public Relations Research Grants MUSC home page Community Happenings Campus News Applause


Employee Wellness

By Susan L. Johnson, Ph.D.
MUSC Employee Wellness

Now there’s a new term to add to freshman 15, an expression used to describe the average amount of weight college students put on their first year, most often from too much pizza and beer. The new term to describe situational weight gain is seasonal seven, which is the average number of pounds put on between Thanksgiving and the New Year.

It’s the perfect storm that usually starts with Halloween candy, followed by football tailgates, holiday parties, cookie baking, family gatherings and not enough time to exercise. It’s no wonder most people gain at least one pound of fat and may also lose muscle mass due to lack of physical activity. Even worse, most people don’t ever lose that weight so it just accumulates from year to year.

It’s not too late, even if those pounds have already started adding up. Here are some tips for starting or maintaining a holiday fitness program.
  • Be flexible. Holiday schedules can disrupt normal workouts, so consider alternate forms of exercise. Try a class that is offered at a different time, use home exercise equipment or TV workouts, or walk during lunch. Cross-training can improve fitness levels, reduce boredom and serve as motivation to continue workouts.
  • Break it up. Workout time is hard to come by in the midst of holiday shopping, baking, wrapping and partying. So instead of giving up all together, try shorter workouts in between errands and events. Squats and lunges in the kitchen, crunches before a shower or even 10 minutes on the treadmill can burn calories, maintain muscle mass and reduce stress.
  • Make it fun. Consider winter activities as ways to stay fit. q Do it together. Holidays involve lots of family gatherings.
  • Plan ahead. If traveling is part of your holiday schedule, consider fitness equipment when you’re packing for a trip. Bring fitness videos, workout clothes, a bathing suit or other gear that you can fit in your bag. Use workout rooms at hotels or buy a pass to the local YMCA or gym.
Employee Wellness events
  • Chair massages: Free massages are offered to employees on Tuesday nights and midday Wednesdays. Look for broadcast messages for locations and times.
  • Farmers market: Dec. 29
  • Discounted state park annual passes: Ranger John Phelps from Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site will be located near Starbucks in the University Hospital on Dec. 29 from 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. selling annual state park passes to employees at a 20 percent discount. Visit or
  • Experts from the Weight Management Center will be available at the Wellness Wednesday booth from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 5 in the University Hospital.

E-mail to become involved in employee wellness at MUSC. Events, classes or any other ideas are welcome.

Friday, Dec. 3, 2010

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.