With all of the office parties, family gatherings, and general carousing that goes on this time of year, it’s easy to find yourself eating more than usual—way more.
Though everyone knows that regular exercise can help prevent holiday weight gain, a new study suggests there are other reasons to keep on jogging through Christmas and New Year’s.
As Runner’s World reports, researchers have found that men who counter binge eating with daily running are able to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and avoid “undesirable” changes to their fat cells.
Running, in other words, won’t just keep you from looking like Santa—it’ll help you counteract some of the less visible negative impacts of short-term holiday overeating.
That conclusion follows a study involving 26 healthy young men that was recently published in the Journal of Physiology. Researchers broke the participants into two groups: One spent a week ingesting 50 percent more calories than usual and partaking in no physical exercise, while the other took in 75 percent more calories than normal and ran 45 minutes a day.
The runners fared better in terms of maintaining blood sugar control and avoiding “alterations in the expression of several key genes with adipose tissue involved in nutritional balance, metabolism and insulin action,” as authors Jean-Philippe Walhin, Judith D. Richardson, James A. Betts, and Dylan Thompson write.
“If you are facing a period of overconsumption and inactivity, which is probably quite common around Christmas time, then our study shows that a daily bout of exercise will prevent many of the negative changes from taking place even though you are gaining weight," said Thomas, according to Runner’s World.