Thanksgiving is a holiday for indulging. And while you should enjoy the turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie your heart desires, you’re going to feel a whole lot better—both on Thanksgiving and in the days following—if you incorporate fitness and movement into your Turkey Day plans.
But how, exactly, do you do that? Let’s take a look.
Kick off your day with a workout
How you start your day is often how you continue your day. So, if you want to make fitness and movement a part of your Thanksgiving Day plans? Make sure to kick off the day with a workout.
Not only will starting your day with a workout encourage you to stay active throughout the day, it might also help you better navigate the Thanksgiving spread. Research shows that exercise is correlated with healthier food choices—so, by prioritizing exercise first thing in the morning, you may find yourself opting for lighter, healthier options (like green bean casserole over mashed potatoes or a yogurt parfait over pecan pie) throughout your Thanksgiving Day celebrations.
What kind of workout you do to kick off your Thanksgiving is up to you. Lace up your shoes and go for a run, hit a cardio class at your local gym, take your bike for a sunrise ride around your neighborhood…as long as it gets you up, active, and moving, it’s a go.
Plan a walk between eating
Thanksgiving is, for many, an eating holiday. There are appetizers, the big Thanksgiving meal, dessert…it’s a lot to digest. And if you’re eating all day, and are completely sedentary on top of it? Your tummy probably isn’t going to feel the best.
Luckily, you can help your body digest all those Thanksgiving treats and settle your stomach with some good, old-fashioned walking. Research has found that walking can help to aid digestion and ease GI-related symptoms. So if you’re feeling a little too full or are dealing with some post-eating stomach issues, a walk around the block can help you to feel better. Or maybe you feel a pumpkin pie crash coming on? Research has also found that walking after a meal may help stabilize blood sugar, so a walk may be just what you need.
Schedule a few walks throughout Thanksgiving Day—ideally, after each course of your big Thanksgiving meal (for example, after you polish off the appetizer plate, after you clear the turkey and sides off the table, and after you enjoy the dessert table).
Do a post-dinner stretch
You may be tempted to go straight from Thanksgiving dinner to bed. But all that eating can cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, like gas, bloating, and constipation, which aren’t exactly conducive to a good night’s sleep.
So, if you want to wake up the day after Thanksgiving feeling refreshed and rejuvenated? Try carving out some time after dinner and before bed for a relaxing yoga flow.
While there isn’t a ton of research about yoga and digestion, there are a variety of yoga poses that have been anecdotally reported to ease GI-related symptoms (for example, many practitioners swear by supine twists for easing gas and bloating). And in addition to potentially helping with post-Thanksgiving digestive issues, yoga has also been linked with improved sleep quality; research from the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health found that 55 percent of people reported that practicing yoga helped them get better sleep.
So, if you want to get a quality night of rest? Fight the urge to collapse into your bed after your Thanksgiving meal—and instead, spend 15 to 20 minutes doing a pre-bedtime yoga flow. (And if you can’t fight the call of your comfy bed? At least do a few in-bed yoga poses before you drift off the sleep.)
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.