Fall running - xwoman jogging in autumn in city park. Female jogger training outside. Beautiful young multi-ethnic xwoman model in her twenties. Click for more:

Thanksgiving is a time to spend with the people you love, enjoying delicious food and being thankful for it all. Although this time of year should be celebrated without the stress of counting calories, preventing a little holiday weight gain never hurt anyone.

Turkey Day is a time where physical activity and healthy eating are often placed pretty far down the list of priorities, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  To make sure you can zip up your pants on Monday and feel good about yourself all season long, counteract excess calories with some fun activities to do all weekend long. Exercise is a great way to keep the unwanted holiday weight off, and doesn’t necessarily require a gym. There are plenty of ways to burn calories while spending time with your family and loved ones.  Here are some ideas to get you moving:

Run a 5k.

There are lots of organizations that schedule 5K runs (3.1 miles) around Thanksgiving. These “Turkey Trots” as they are called often support a great cause and are good workouts! If you’re not ready to run, you can walk many of them as well.

Plan a Thanksgiving Day tradition.

Meet up with your friends, family and neighbors the morning of Thanksgiving and exercise together. Play a game of flag football, run, hike, play soccer or any other sport that gets everyone involved.

Do a bodyweight workout.

Whether you’re in a hotel room or at home, you can give this calorie-burning workout a try: Do 20 squats, 10 push-ups, 20 lunges, 30 crunches, and a 1 minute plank hold. Repeat this circuit 4 to 5 times with little to no rest.

Take a fitness class.

Some fitness studios are open on Thanksgiving Day for specialty classes. Check out fitness studios like FlyWheel, SoulCycle, Life Time Fitness, and more. Or, stream a workout class from your computer through a program like BeachBody.com, DailyBurn.com, FitFusion, or others.

Host a jump rope contest.

A fun way to burn calories is to hold a fitness contest with your loved ones. Set a timer and see who can skip the longest without messing up. Or you can simply jump rope for timed periods as a group in intervals of 30 seconds on 30 seconds off. Repeat this 10 times.

Go for a morning ride.

Getting up early and biking will get your metabolism revved up and help you feel more relaxed before the day of cooking begins. This can even be a yearly tradition for you and your loved ones.

How to Become a Morning Exerciser

Play backyard games.

While the turkey is cooking, set aside an hour or so of outdoors time with your family. You can set up the backyard to be a “fun zone” with games. Some games to include are: Potato sack races, corn hole, Spikeball, horseshoes, or a beanbag toss. Here is a list of backyard games for kids and adults.

9 Indoor Activities You Can Do with Your Kids

Start a dance party.

Crank up some music and get grooving! This is something both kids and adults can have a good time doing. It creates laughter, memoires and it’s an effortless way to get moving.

Move during commercial breaks.

During your favorite Thanksgiving program, make it a point to get active during each commercial. You can do some jumping jacks, run around the outside of your home, and do push-ups, squats and more. As long as you’re moving, all of those commercials will add up!

Take a brisk walk.

Its sounds so simple, but taking a simple walk before and after meals is a great way to stay active on Turkey Day. (Strolling after meals can help with digestion, too!) Make it a holiday tradition with your family.

Play a video game.

An active video game that is! One that makes you move though dance or has specific designed workouts like the WII.

Be a fit traveler.

If you are traveling and are stuck in the airport waiting for a flight, get in extra steps by walking to the bathroom and fill up your water bottle at a fountain that’s at least a 5-minute walk away from your gate. You’ll get in 10 minutes of exercise each time.

Walk the dogs longer.

Thanksgiving is a time when even our pooches tend to eat more. A great way to give them more activity as well as yourself is to extend their normal walking time. Depending on the dog, you may even want to turn it into a jog. Not only will they love it, the whole family will, too!

– By SJ McShane

Smart Lifebites