Stay Active Over The Holidays

Family v2

Thanksgiving and Christmas are inherently the holidays to relax, eat too much, and relax some more (i.e. couch-table-couch). As cozy as this can be, it can leave you feeling lethargic and unhealthy.

This year, Children's Colorado, through its Healthy Hospital initiative, encourages employees to relax in active ways. Michael Witten, MS, CSCS, exercise physiologist, director of the Children's Colorado Wellness Center, and John Paro, fitness manager of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, suggest some ways to get a metabolic boost and burn extra calories in the midst of holiday gluttony.

  • Eat breakfast. This is the most important meal of the day. Try to eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up.
  • Get your sleep. Try not to stay up or sleep in much later than usual.
  • Stay awake during the day; refrain from napping, especially after you've eaten a large meal.
  • Participate in one of many 5Ks going on around Denver. Or, you can make up your own run for your family. Make a route in the neighborhood and hand out festive prizes for all participants.
  • Add variety to your workout. During the holidays, you can have fun participating in seasonal activities such as snowshoeing, sledding, cross-country skiing or ice-skating.
  • Horse around with the kids by playing tag, keep-away or something similar to burn extra calories.
  • After watching the NFL Thanksgiving Day game, gather family and friends for touch football in the yard.
  • Go on a turkey hunt. Trace your hand on paper to make a turkey; make at least 10. Have a relative or friend hide them inside or outside. After dinner, everyone goes on a hunt. The first person to find the most turkeys in a certain amount of time gets to host a holiday party in December.
  • Play a group game outside, like capture the flag, red rover or four square.
  • Try to exercise one to two hours after eating breakfast or an hour before eating Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Have a dance party after dinner.
  • Don't forget about the dog. Take him or her - along with any family or friends - on a walk after dinner.
  • If the weather permits, get your hands dirty. Gather the family to rake leaves, clear the garden for winter, plant bulbs, build a planter box for next springs, or paint the garage or stain the deck. You could also use this as a time to hang the holiday lights.
  • Help clean up after dinner. Hand wash the dishes instead of using the dishwasher.
  • Play a fun game after dinner. Laughing burns calories.
  • Use holiday shopping as an opportunity to be active. Walk as much as possible. Park far from the store. Go to the mall early and walk around for 30 minutes before shopping. Walk from store to store instead of getting back in the car, if possible.
  • Take a visiting family member to your gym or an exercise class.
  • Take visitors on a walking or biking tour of your city/neighborhood.
  • If you invite friends to your home for leftovers, first play a physical game (such as soccer or Frisbee) or exercise to a DVD (like P90X) as a fun way to bond before consuming those extra calories.
  • Get a permit and cut down your own Christmas tree.