A New Thanksgiving Tradition
Great ideas to get the family moving
By Erica K. Perkins, Fitness Director, University of Virginia
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for family and friends to gather and spend quality time together. It also tends to be a time when we are more sedentary and indulge in large meals and delicious desserts. Refraining from family recipes may be a challenge, but you can diminish the effects and create wonderful memories by incorporating exercise and physical activities into your Thanksgiving traditions.
These fun ideas will get everyone off the couch
Enjoy the fall foliage
Take a hike on any portion of the 20+ miles of Rivanna trails in and around Charlottesville or along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Check these websites for maps, origination points for various parts of the trails with length, cumulative mileage and footing description; trail conditions and trail rules.
Take a community walk
Walk or jog with your family around your neighborhood, the downtown mall or UVA campus. Go at any pace that allows you to socialize and enjoy the fresh air.
Pick pumpkins or apples at a local orchard
Carter’s Mountain boasts beautiful views as well as the opportunity to pick your own apples and pumpkins.
The 27th annual Turkey Trot at the Boars Head Inn is on Thanksgiving Day and the proceeds benefit UVA Children’s Hospital. This race is full of walkers, joggers, dogs and baby strollers for a morning of exercise, camaraderie and good causes. The Boar’s Head Turkey Trot 5k. Learn more at
Prefer to stay close to home? Bring out your inner youth and play tag, red/light green light or even Simon Says. Little kids love to have grown-ups involved in “their games” and if little ones aren’t around, enjoy being a kid again yourself!
Ready for some football? Kickball? Stickball?
You don’t have to be an acclaimed athlete to enjoy some friendly competition. Rules can be bent to accommodate all fitness, age and skill levels. The goal is to get everyone moving and enjoying the activity and each other and avoiding being sedentary over the holiday.
When time for the meal, follow these tips to keep from overeating but still enjoy the foods you love:
- Don’t go to the table hungry. Be sure to have had some fiber-rich snacks prior to the meal.
- Give yourself time to digest before going back for seconds; you may find you are too full to go back.
- If you would like to try everything, be sure to take very small portions.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day and with dinner.
- If you overeat on Thanksgiving, don’t get frustrated and throw your healthy eating out the window. Get back on track the next day with your exercise program and healthy eating habits, rather than continue to overeat throughout the holidays.