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Tips to Stay Healthy This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a special time to celebrate those closest to you. A time of abundance, where we each can express gratitude and practice tradition. It’s also a time of year when you can enjoy plates of seasonal foods like turkey, pumpkin pie and much more.

However, all these amazing traditions can complicate the holiday for those trying to maintain their fitness and health. Ditching the exercise routine and replacing it with a food-induced coma can sound extremely tempting.
The good news is that there are several ways to maintain your wellness goals this holiday season. Staying active – even if only through light activity – can really help to aid in digestion and the bloating which can follow large meals. One of the best ways to stay active is by incorporating light exercise into your daily routine. 

Yoga mat and dumbbells with leaves and pumpkins
Photo By AtlasComposer An article from Virtual Health Partners

suggests doing this through activities like cleaning or even simply playing music while cooking. Rather than forcing yourself to go to the gym, you can increase your heart rate through the movements you do in these activities.

99Walks suggests adding some occasional walking by going grocery shopping or taking post-meal walks with your family. Research shows that walking after meals promotes digestion, assists in blood sugar control and can help with many other aspects with your health. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to take in the crisp fall air before the severe temperature drops.

Many communities also offer great opportunities for holiday-themed exercise. A great example of this is a Turkey Trot, where locals gather for Thanksgiving morning runs and walks. 

Additionally, some studios and gyms offer Black Friday Boot Camps, which are special classes where you can do fun exercises in a group setting over the holidays. Attending these classes can be a great way to keep your energy up and bring down stress levels.

Group Fitness class at the Student Recreation CenterPhoto By WVUGo Staff

Practicing mindfulness when consuming your Thanksgiving meal can also be beneficial. While it's not good to overindulge on the food, it can often make you feel bad to deprive yourself.

“I try to pace myself, especially with Thanksgiving,” said Andy Darling, director of WVU Campus Recreation. “I love all the Thanksgiving food, but I’ve learned to try not to eat everything I see in a single meal. Spreading it out some allows me to continue to enjoy it and also not feel like I’ve overindulged."

The Wise Ape recommends finding a healthy medium between the two while remaining conscious of what will be best for you. When choosing what to put on your plate, try only to take the unhealthy items that you really want and enjoy; then, fill the rest of the plate with healthier options.

Lastly, don't forget to practice taking time for yourself to breathe as well.

Woman practicing yoga in forest during fallPhoto By IrynaKhabliuk

A 2018 Forbes article stresses the importance of self-care during the busy holiday season. Thanksgiving can be a tough time of year with the "winter blues" and stress that families can sometimes provide. If you're feeling overwhelmed, try to squeeze in 10 minutes for a break. You can also practice yoga or guided meditation during this time.

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks, so remember to thank yourself for everything that you do, too!

"Happy Thanksgiving" surrounded by legumesPhoto By LanaSweet

About the Author

Riley Reid is a staff writer for the Campus Recreation & Adventure WV marketing and communications team. She is currently a junior at West Virginia University obtaining a B.S. in Interactive Design for Media.