The One Healthy Thing Fitness Experts Always Do on Thanksgiving Day
Make this the year you don't collapse in a food coma.
Who doesn't love Thanksgiving—one of the few days of the year when you can put aside your usual healthy habits and pig out with no shame or judgment?
While we're totally on board with holiday indulgence, it's not a bad idea to try to do at least one food- or fitness-related move to keep your energy high, your mood bright, and successfully resist the urge to veg out on the couch after dinner nursing a monster food baby. To give you some inspiration, we asked fitness influencers, nutritionists, and Health staffers to tell us one thing they always do for mind-body health on Turkey Day.
“I get out on the road early for a run before the festivities begin. I know later I most likely won’t have the time or energy. Running is also my 'me' time; on a day of giving thanks, it’s important to thank yourself for all you do! Having the ability to move, breathe, and share life with others makes me feel even more grateful. The crisp fall air and smell of fallen leaves doesn’t hurt in setting the mood either.”
—Rebecca Kennedy, New York based–fitness trainer
“I love taking recipes from Pinterest that look super yummy and find ways to make them healthier with organic and natural ingredients. It's fun because it's something the whole family can be part of. We're all cooking and being creative, and healthy!”
—Cassey Ho, fitness influencer and founder of Blogilates
“I always try to maintain a physical yoga practice during the holidays, even if it mean unrolling my mat in the one sliver of space that’s not occupied by a family member. It always helps me stay centered during what can be a very emotionally difficult time of the year and it helps validate my requisite gluttonous holiday meal choices. Plus, yogic twists make digestion of rich holiday food much easier.”
—Jessamyn Stanley, yogi and author of Every Body Yoga
“On Thanksgiving I pay close attention to my mind-body connection. It doesn't feel good to deprive myself, and it doesn't feel good to be stuffed and sluggish, so I make choices that allow me to feel both satisfied and energized simultaneously. This balance feels just right, both mentally and physically, and it's freeing to make choices motivated by feeling well, rather than numbers, rules, shoulds, or guilt!"
—Cynthia Sass, RD, Health contributing nutrition editor
“I just make sure to get a run in, walk before and after eating, and then also pace myself between the main course and dessert. I'm never one to wildly indulge and I think if you give yourself a bit of a break between the main course and dessert it allows you some time to spend with your family, in addition to being actually able to savor the deliciousness of the sweets.”
—Joe Holder, Nike master trainer
“Our Thanksgiving Day tradition (besides enjoying the meal) always includes exercise: We all go for a hike in the morning, followed by a stretching session, usually led by my daughter [fitness blogger and author] Katie, and then after the meal we put on loud music and dance around the house, inside and out! It’s a great way to keep your energy up and connect with the family!”
—Denise Austin, fitness expert and creator of LifeFit
“This Thanksgiving, I’ll be sneaking in an infrared sauna session. It’s a 30-minute sweat, so if I’m cooking all day and don’t have time to get my ass to the gym, it’s easy. And a good sweat definitely helps me mentally prepare for family dynamics!”
—Hannah Bronfman, DJ and founder of HBFIT
"Every year on Thanksgiving morning, my dad, brothers, husband and I run in our town's local road race together. My dad always insists on leaving unnecessarily early to get a parking spot and it's always freezing (so, I'm always kind of dreading it), but then I feel extra virtuous when it's time to head home and start digging into the appetizers."
—Kathleen Felton, senior digital editor
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“I always try to go for a run before the meal, but no matter my exercise plans, my family and I try to do something active together during the day. Some years, with a big crowd, that's been a casual touch football game. Other times, it's just a walk around the block. Anything to get moving and help avoid a total food coma!”
—Sarah Klein, senior editor at Health
“Every year, I watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from a friend's house that overlooks the parade route. Her apartment is about a two-mile walk from my house, and I always walk there and back to fit some activity in before I feast later on. A brisk walk is the best way to wake up on one of my favorite days of the year!”
—Anthea Levi, Health freelance writer