12 Ways to Work Off That Thanksgiving Feast

Did you feel more stuffed than the Tom the Turkey on Thanksgiving Day? If so, you aren’t alone.

The Calorie Control Council researched the average American diet, and found that we eat more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat during the typical Thanksgiving meal. That study breaks the offending behavior into two parts: about 3,000 calories eaten during the meal and an additional 1,500 eaten during cocktail hour and hors d’oevres.

For those of you who don’t count calories, that’s more than two times the normal calorie intake and three times the fat. Ugh.

It’s not worth beating yourself up over an overstuffed Thanksgiving holiday, but you don’t have to let your Thanksgiving indulgence derail your health for the winter. Here are 12 ways to get back to healthy living after your Thanksgiving feast.

1. Pedal Power

After a day of heavy eating, you might feel too stuffed to run, but a stationary or regular bike can allow you to increase your heart rate without jostling your stomach. After a 10-minute warmup to ease your body into aerobic exercise, increase resistance or cycle at full speed for an additional 30 minutes to burn about 400 calories. You can use this calculator to determine how many calories you’ve burned based on your weight.

2. Run for It

Turkey Trot or not, going for a jog will burn calories. A good 30-minute run can burn more than 400 calories, so just a few days of jogging can put you back on the path to fitness.

3. Weight Training

Sometimes the gym seems like it is divided into two types of people: those who run or use the elliptical, and those who lift weights. A well-rounded workout routine includes both. Cardio is important, but so is weight and resistance training. A 30-minute training session can burn about 100 calories and build up muscle strength.

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4. Drink Water

If you aren’t hydrated, your workout and your waistline will suffer. Dehydration can shorten endurance and workout time. Drinking water also helps you feel full. Water can also help keep your bowel functions regular, which is usually a problem after a large meal like Thanksgiving.

5. Dancing

If you’re not a fan of the gym, why not burn calories while dancing? Zumba classes and videos are very popular and can provide a cardio workout without pounding the treadmill. In a 60-minute class or video, you can burn between 300-450 calories depending on intensity. Here are some tips for making your Zumba workout burn even more calories.

6. Core Workout

Core workouts – think planks, crunches, leg lifts and pushups – are great for the abs, which may be hidden under a little holiday bloating right now. While this workout isn’t a huge calorie burner (only about 80 calories for 15 minutes of crunches), adding in some light cardio like jumping jacks or high knees can help make this workout more efficient.

7. At-Home Boot Camp

You know those awesome boot-camp classes at the local gym? You can recreate them at home by doing three rounds of the following exercises, 15 of each: situps, pushups, lunge jumps, burpees, squat jumps, calf raises and jumping jacks. These high-intensity workouts will get you sweating and work your core.

8. Walk

Walking won’t burn as many calories as running, but it is better than staying on the couch. Walking can be a good first workout after Thanksgiving to ease back into activity. An hour of quick walking will burn about 300 calories, not bad for the first day back in the saddle.

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9. Yoga

If you were on your feet on Thanksgiving Day cooking, cleaning and hosting, your body might be rebelling against the idea of an intense cardio workout. If so, try out a yoga class like Vinyasa or Ashtanga, which are higher intensity. Depending on the class, you can burn more than 300 calories in a 60-minute session.

10. Stairs

Whether running the stairs in your house or heading to the Stairmaster at the gym, stairs offer a big reward for relatively little activity. Climbing seven flights of stairs can burn about 80 calories and can be done in a matter of minutes. You can add hand weights (or boxes of Christmas decorations) for added calorie burn.

11. Swimming

Maybe putting on a swimsuit is the last thing you want to do after a filling meal, but swimming is a fantastic way to burn calories and be kind to your joints and muscles. A 45-minute swim can burn more than 200 calories.

12. Eat Right

Perhaps the most damaging thing that can happen in the days and weeks after a holiday is that we don’t return to our healthy eating habits. Allowing one cheat day to become our new normal can derail anyone, so make sure to replace the stuffing and mashed potatoes with fresh fruits and veggies as soon as possible.

You survived Thanksgiving, and now it is time to focus on fitness to ensure a healthy and happy future. The coming weeks will be filled with holiday parties, Christmas cookies and winter cocktails, so now is the time to maintain a fitness routine. These 12 ideas will help you burn off Thanksgiving and get you ready for winter.

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