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6 Sneaky Ways to Burn Calories with Your Family this Thanksgiving


WRITTEN BY: Sports Medicine
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

While a beloved and time-honored tradition, Thanksgiving may pose a challenge for those trying to stay fit and healthy. The calorie content of dishes like stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, can sometimes exceed daily recommendations for adults ranging from around 1800 to 2400 calories. But with all the love and memories cooked into the big meal, who can resist going back for seconds?

This year, try incorporating physical activity and exercise into your family traditions to balance the Thanksgiving calories. Think you may face some opposition? Try these tips from the experts at UPMC Sports Medicine that may trick your family into burning some calories.

1. Play football with your family

A game of touch football is a classic. Encourage your family to get out and play while the turkey roasts. Remember to wear protective equipment if you decide to play a tackle version and always remember to stretch prior to kickoff. To get everyone into the game, offer the winning team first pick of desserts. If your family is larger, separate into multiple teams and have a tournament.

2. Stand and walk around the table while saying what you are thankful for

The tradition of sharing what each person is thankful for before the Thanksgiving meal is a staple in many households. This year, try changing the rules of the game and have your family members walk around the table while speaking. To keep everyone moving longer, ask family members to share a favorite memory. Switch speakers by standing behind the person next in line and switching seats.

3. Participate in a turkey trot

A Thanksgiving-themed 5k is a wonderful opportunity to burn some calories before the big feast. Sign up for a local race with your family, or create your own version by heading to the nearest park. If you drive to the park, don’t worry about competing for the best parking, just park in the back of the lot and begin your warm up at your car.

4. Make cleaning up after dinner a competition

Cleanup allows you to get moving after sitting and eating for hours. Scrubbing plates, packing up leftovers, or mopping common areas can burn calories while restoring order in your home. To get everyone involved, split into teams and reward the team with the most or quickest progress.

5. Start your own family Thanksgiving Day Parade

Many Thanksgiving mornings begin with families huddled around the TV to watch the big parade. To incorporate an active version of this tradition, make your own parade. Walk around the house, block, or neighborhood before or after your meal to burn some extra calories.

6. Beat the Black Friday lines and spend the day after Thanksgiving decorating your home for the rest of the holidays and dancing to your favorite music

Thanksgiving is the beginning of a long holiday season. Putting up holiday decorations around the house and outdoors is a fun way to burn calories, while still spending time with your family. Remember to be careful when lifting heavy objects or standing on ladders to reach high places. Play some of your favorite holiday music in the background to set the scene and get your toes tapping.

The amount of calories burned for each activity listed varies depending on age, weight, gender, and fitness level. With a little creativity and an open mind, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to end in turkey overload and a sugar crash. Get the whole family moving while spending time together to enjoy the holiday and keep healthy!

To learn more about the services offered at UPMC Sports Medicine, call 1-855-93-SPORT(77678).

Sports Medicine

UPMC Sports Medicine is the region’s largest and most experienced program dedicated to treating, training, and inspiring athletes at levels, in all sports. Our physicians, surgeons, physical therapists, athletic trainers, sports nutrition, and sports performance experts are dedicated to helping athletes and active people recover from injuries, and even prevent them. Read More