Monday, November 22, 2010

Not just for turkeys

Each year as Thanksgiving rolls around most people’s thoughts turn to turkeys and thanks and seeing relatives. But one thing that often is neglected is fitness.

That can be a dangerous combo.

The average American consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day and more than 229 grams of fat, or more than 2.5 times the average daily calorie count recommended and nearly 3.5 times the daily fat count recommended, according to the Calorie Control Council. The council also estimates that individuals may consume enough fat at Thanksgiving feasts to equal three sticks of butter.

I don’t know about you, but those numbers are a bit frightening to me and spurred me to look for tips on ways to combat the added calories.

So I turned to Mike Lofland, director of the Texas Health Fitness Center HEB.
Lofland recommends families find ways to incorporate exercise in between holiday snacks. For those families that are already fit, there are many turkey trots scheduled around town to fit in exercise before the Thanksgiving feast.

But if you aren’t there yet, you can try creating your own Turkey Trot at home. Mark off a short route and encourage family members to take a stroll or jog together around the neighborhood.

Grab a football and divide up into teams. Or break out the basketball. You could even play TURKEY instead of PIG or HORSE.

Get a hula hoop and challenge family members to test their skills with the winner of the longest streak of hula hooping earning a prize.

If you have a Wii or other gaming system, challenge each other to games on there instead of just watching football on TV.

“The most important thing is to make it fun and something the whole family can get involved with,” Lofland said. “Thanksgiving isn’t about the turkey or the stuffing, it’s about spending time with family and friends. By changing the focus of the holiday you can have another thing to be thankful for – better health for you and your family by moving more.”

As for me I’ll be taking longer walks with my dog that day. It will be good to tire her out before company arrives and give me a chance for some quiet time while burning a few calories. After all, I doubt I’ll be skipping a slice of Mom’s homemade apple pie the one time a year I get to have it.

Does your family have a great fitness-related Thanksgiving tradition? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Jennifer Erickson
Sr. Public Relations Specialist
Texas Health HEB

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