Title: Eat, Pray…Exercise?

In my family, Thanksgiving kicks off six weeks of feasting. Lunches out, dinner parties, happy hours, plus all those kid-centric celebrations — and then we wake up just before Epiphany and realize that none of our pants fit. Happy New Year!

This year, though, things are going to be different.

Last spring, I started running, after 20 years of yoga and long walks. In February of 2011, I’m planning to run a half marathon. In order to stay on schedule, I’ll be training right through the holidays, running four times a week. I’m willing to bet that this year, my pants will all still fit in January.

But running 10 miles isn’t the only way to get moving after a big holiday meal. According to Butterball’s survey, the family football game is still a big part of the holiday; younger family members (ages 18-40) are likely to get out the pigskin after dinner and burn off those mashed potatoes.

Unfortunately, that’s only half of what families will do during their holiday time together. Nearly a third of all respondents ages 18 to 64 will grab a Wii controller after dinner. A gentle reminder: a rousing game of Wii tennis isn’t anything like a real match. Don’t substitute virtual workouts for actual calorie burning.      

Make an effort to get off the sofa and away from the television this Thanksgiving. Take a walk — if there are little kids at your holiday meal, bring them with you. Pushing a stroller or chasing a preschooler is a great way to burn calories and bond with the next generation. Toss a football with older kids or shoot play basketball — or bust out the hula hoops and see if you can still swing those hips like you did in middle school.

I’m planning to look for balance in my Thanksgiving exercise this year. I’m finally able to beat my sons at Mario Kart, so my plan is to run early in the morning, before we eat, and then settle in for some Wii racing after dessert. The key to staying healthy during the holidays is moderation and consistency; don’t quit exercising, and don’t go overboard with the goodies. Who knows — you might even celebrate the New Year a few pounds lighter than you started!

How do you stay active during the holiday season?

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