When it comes to the holiday season, most of us are quick to let loose and wait until New Year’s Day to worry about those extra pounds. These five ways of staying active can help you not just avoid weight gain, but relieve some of that holiday stress too.
Just because you went overboard on your Thanksgiving meal doesn’t mean you have to give up on fitness for the rest of the holidays. Instead, try adding a few fun and active traditions to your turkey day with the following suggestions.
1. Try a Turkey Trot
Don’t worry, this kind of turkey trot doesn’t require a ragtime band or ballroom dancing skills, just your favorite pair of running sneakers. Every year, thousands of turkey trots spring up around the country. These holiday runs usually range from 1K “fun runs” to 10K races, and take place anytime from the weeks before Thanksgiving right up until Thanksgiving Day itself.
According to its webpage, the Annual YMCA Buffalo Niagara Turkey Trot is “known to be the oldest consecutively run footrace in the world,” and that’s not hard to believe, considering this Thanksgiving marks its 122nd year! The 8K, which was founded in 1896, is a charity event that supports local children and families in need. In other words, participation won’t just help you stay fit, it also means contributing to a great cause. If you can’t make it all the way to Buffalo, don’t worry—Turkey Trots have become a tradition all over the country, so there’s sure to be one near you!
2. Play Flag Football with the Family
For many Americans, Thanksgiving is a day to gather with family, eat, and watch a football game. But why stay inside when you can get the fam involved in a game of your own? With flag football—or no contact football—you can include family members of all ages, or even join in on a local tournament.
From Kansas to Pennsylvania, families have made flag football a Thanksgiving tradition, and all you need to play is your own backyard.
For a simplified version of the game, divide your family into two teams, stick three flags in your belt-loops, and try to get the ball into the opposite “end zone.” Whether you use grandpa’s toolshed, or the neighbor’s fence is up to you! Just make sure your zones are set.
To gain possession of the ball, try to snatch one of the flags off of whoever is carrying it. Once a player loses all of their flags, they’re out! Whether you’re following official rules, or making them up as you go, the game is sure to shake you out of a Thanksgiving food coma.
3. Join a Thanksgiving Parade
Cities and towns all around the country play host to some pretty awesome Thanksgiving Day parades, so if you’re looking for an activity that’s a little more low-key, a parade might be right up your alley.
While parade lengths very from town to town, many are at least a mile long, which means that with preparation and parade time, you’ll be able to put a solid dent into your 10,000-step goal for the day. For example, according to NYC Tourist, the Macy’s Day Parade is 2.65 miles long, which would rack up over 5,000 steps for the average person.
Although not all parades are equally open to participants, many hometown parades invite locals to make a float or banner and sign up to join the queue. If you and your family members are feeling artistic, pick a theme, and start building a bigger base for that old Radio Flyer!
4. Try a Thanksgiving Workout Challenge
If you think you’re one tough turkey, you might want to involve your family members in some friendly competition with a fun workout challenge.
Originally posted by fitness blogger Lauren Gleisberg, the “Planksgiving” challenge is a simple core workout that only takes about fifteen minutes to complete. To complete the challenge, you’ll do five plank variations for 30 seconds each, with 30 seconds of rest between each exercise, and repeat the process three times. The variations include extended arm and leg planks, reverse planks, and hands-to-forearm planks—so you won’t have to worry about all of that gravy and apple pie jostling around.
5. Go Shopping on Black Friday
Admittedly, this “workout” is not for the faint of heart. As wild as black Friday can be, a day full of shopping means a day full of walking—and there are some surprising statistics when it comes to braving America’s malls.
According to Mall of America’s fact page, the “walking distance around one level of Mall of America [is] 1.15 miles.” Of course, there are three full floors that you can walk around, amounting to almost 3.5 miles—and that’s not even counting your walk to and from the parking lot, or detours into your favorite stores.
Similarly, Destiny USA in Syracuse, NY boasts an “uninterrupted 3-mile loop – almost a 5K,” according to Syracuse.com. Not only that, but portions of the flooring are made up of recycled cork and walnut shells, making the trek easy on your joints. And walking aside, once you consider the weight of your shopping bags, you’ll be getting in quite the post-Thanksgiving workout.
Whether you’re pulling a parade float, hitting the shops, or challenging your grandma to a plank-off, staying active throughout Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season is great for your mind, body, and long-term health.