Healthy Family Fun for Thanksgiving

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Thanksgiving is a time to follow family traditions, from baking Grandma's classic pie recipe to watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Unfortunately though, those traditions often revolve a lot around food--and not at all around being active. I know that was the case for me as I grew up, and I've seen the same trend with other families as well. Over the years, I have tossed out some of those old and unhealthy traditions that I grew up with and have started up healthier traditions with my own family. It's completely possible to still be festive while making healthier choices—plus, I don't regret my decisions later!

One of my favorite traditions that I have adopted in recent years is Coach Nicole's idea of ''moving my feet before I eat.'' Whether it is getting out for a walk or playing with my dogs, I make sure to get some physical activity in during the big day. This is not only a great way for me to stay on track with my fitness goals during the holiday, but it's also a wonderful way to spend time with my family--and include them in my healthy lifestyle!

This year, I encourage you to take the spotlight off the fattening feast, and focus on what really matters--bonding with your family. Create your own healthier holiday traditions with these ideas.
Pick out healthier recipes as a family. Finding lighter recipes to replace traditional Thanksgiving fare can help your household skip that post-feast coma. As a bonus, choosing new recipes to try together (or healthier versions of what you normally make) can be a fun way to get your whole family on board with a healthy lifestyle.
Let everyone help with the meal--including the kids. Any time you prepare a meal, it is a great opportunity to teach your children (and other family members) about nutrition and healthy cooking. Thanksgiving should be no exception! If you have young children, you can start out with giving them basic tasks, like grabbing foods from the pantry, mixing ingredients, and pouring batter. Don't forget to have everyone help clean up, too!
Run or walk in a Turkey Trot or 5K race. Many cities have some form of a Turkey Trot or 5K on Thanksgiving Day, which can be a great way to get some exercise in and burn some calories before it's time to feast. Some races may even allow strollers for families with smaller children. If your city doesn't happen to host a race that day, try running or walking in a SparkPeople Virtual Race!
Go for a walk. Walking is a family-friendly exercise that can also double as a great time to reflect on the things you are thankful for. This year, start a tradition of taking a post-turkey ''gratitude walk'' with your loved ones. Check out SparkPeople's Walking Guide for more tips.
Volunteer at your local soup kitchen. Donating your time to help others is a great way to teach your family members to be kind and giving individuals. Soup kitchens are always in need of volunteers during the holidays, so make a point to sign up with your family to do some good, even if it's just for a couple of hours.
Have an active video game tournament (DDR, Wii Fit, Zumba, etc.). This type of tournament can be a lot of fun for all. There are so many kinds of active video games out there for both kids and adults. You can even come up with some fun (non-food) prizes for the winner of the tournament!
Do the Turkey Burner Workout. Want to add some more movement to your Thanksgiving Day without leaving the house? Torch some of those turkey calories with this fun workout, which is comprised of a circuit of five strength and cardio moves.
Take a hike! After you get the turkey in the oven, take the family out for a hike. Hiking is one of my favorite things to do because I love the scenery and different terrain on the various trails. This is another activity that is easy to do with family members, and if you have younger children, you can choose an easier trail. Scope out local trails in advance to find one that will work for everyone.  
Play at your local park. You can do so many things at a park--the options are endless! You can play football, soccer, basketball, Frisbee, or something as simple as a game of tag. Every 10 minutes or so, have your family members take turns choosing a new game to play.
Include your pets in the fun, too. Pets can sometimes be forgotten when there is so much going on, so make sure you get them moving, too! If you decide to do some of the fun outdoor activities listed above, take your dog with you. He will love being included in your family playtime—and he'll be so tired from running around that he won't have the energy to beg for leftovers!

What healthy Thanksgiving traditions do you have with your family? What new traditions will you add this year?

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