Healthy Thanksgiving Activities for the Whole Family

Healthy Thanksgiving Activities
Ready for some healthy Thanksgiving downtime?  While Thanksgiving is centered around the big feast, there’s plenty of time before and after the meal for healthy family activities.  Healthy Thanksgiving activities will burn off some of the calories of the feast while you celebrate joy and gratitude with your family and friends.  Here are some healthy Thanksgiving activities you can enjoy with family members of any age.  

Before the Meal:

Get a head start on burning off your dinner while you connect with your family.
  • Pre-meal Run/Walk: Turkey Trots are easy to come by, usually held on Thanksgiving morning.  You can easily find a local option including a 5K run or walk (search active.com if you need help).  Need more flexibility? Register for a virtual turkey trot. The registration and prize package make the event especially interesting for younger runners and walkers and you complete the race at any point on Thanksgiving Day.  Increase the fun by sharing your results on social media or in your ViaFit circle.
  • Involve Young Family Members in Meal Prep: Cooking can be challenging with children around.  Why not slow down the pace of preparations and celebrate the chance to cook with your kids? The scale of Thanksgiving meal preparation offers lots of opportunities to involve kids in cooking healthy Thanksgiving recipes and special treats. If the final hours of preparation are too hectic, get the kids involved the day before.  Blending soups, washing vegetables for a salad, and even baking are activities that engage young chefs.
  • Head Outside: While (touch) football is a traditional favorite, you don’t need to limit yourself as you stretch your legs. Before or after the Thanksgiving meal, three legged races, egg tosses, and scavenger hunts are fun outdoor activities that work for any age.  Offering prizes, such as the chance to sit out on clean up or grab the best seat at the table, is one way to sweeten the competition.


Getting everyone moving after the big feast is challenging.  Try these engaging indoor options to support family and connection while you consider that coffee and pie.
  • Make Christmas Ornaments: Creating simple ornaments for the Christmas tree is a creative way to keep small hands busy after the meal. Prep a simple salt dough ahead of time and let the kids go crazy with cut outs after the table is cleared.  Prompt the kids to include something they are grateful for on their ornament in words or pictures for a special memory of this holiday on the Christmas tree.
  • Hold a Talent Show: Truthfully, this is a nice way to get the kids out of your hair for a while.  After the meal, the kids (and kids at heart) get time to prepare their act before performing for the crowd.  Performances can be as serious or silly as the performer. Paper airplanes, magic tricks, and silly jokes are all fair game.  Don’t forget to choose an emcee!
  • Pull out your photo albums: The relaxed afternoon of Thanksgiving is a rare chance to remember and share stories with your family. When was the last time you pulled out your wedding album, or that of your parents?  Share your experiences and let the kids ask questions.  Don’t just stop at the pictures, talk about cars, music, movies and anything else you remember.
  • Break into Your Game Closet: If you’re feeling adventurous, charades, dance contests, and scavenger hunts are active indoor games that will get your family moving. Or pull out Trivia or Scrabble for an old favorite. Quieter options, from Pictionary to checkers are welcome ways to engage in groups or one on one.

Thanksgiving Evening and the Long Weekend:

While you can stick with any of the above into the evening, you might find yourself ready to get out for a while.  Here are a few ways to do so with your family.
  • Volunteer: From serving meals to ringing bells, there are plenty of local opportunities to give back over the Thanksgiving weekend. Volunteer match and United Way are excellent resources, especially if you’d like to commit to a long-term project.  And remember, volunteering doesn’t have to be a formal commitment.   If you know of a neighbor or friend that could use company or a meal, stop by with food and conversation later in the day.
  • Go Bowling: While many businesses are closed on Thanksgiving evening, bowling alleys are often open for business.  Fun and inexpensive, bowling is a family friendly way to continue visiting while staying active. Head in with a positive attitude and enjoy the laughs while teaching this sport to your kids (and refreshing your own memory)!
  • Take a Drive: Seeing the first glimpses of Christmas lights on the long nights of November is especially exciting for younger family members.  Take a drive and use the time to talk about things you would especially like to do as you head into the holiday season.
  Thanksgiving Day will come and go almost as quickly as the feast on the table.  Take the time for fun activities with your family. The memories you build will last forever.