Diana Kelly Levey

How Get Your Family Moving This Thanksgiving

kids playing in leaves Thanksgiving

November 20, 2018 | Categories:

If your Thanksgiving is like most Americans’, it’s a day all about food, football, and family. Unfortunately, that can mean hours on end spent sitting on our duffs, snacking and watching TV before sitting some more to eat a huge meal. This year, why not start a new tradition of getting active with your loved ones, creating memories by playing some Thanksgiving games together?

We chatted with fitness experts to get creative suggestions for how to be more active with kids of all ages this Thanksgiving that don’t feel like exercise. The top tip? “Give children and teens license to get messy and act like kids!” says Anthony Wall, CPT, Director of Professional Education, American Council on Exercise. “And if you get silly with them, they’re going to be pleasantly surprised. That’s what draws the family together, creating memories and experiences.”

In your backyard

Set up a Thanksgiving scavenger hunt.This one works especially well for elementary-aged kids: Hide little Thanksgiving- or fall-themed trinkets around your yard or local park (like toy pilgrims and turkeys), and attach a fitness challenge to each one, suggests Len Saunders, exercise physiologist and author of Keeping Kids Fit. A toy pilgrim might have a note attached to it that says, “Do five jumping jacks,” for instance. Then, award a small (non-food) prize to the kids who collected the most objects. If you don’t have any small trinkets available, just print Thanksgiving pictures from your computer instead

Host a water toss. Have teams of two stand a few feet across from one another—one person has a full cup of water and the other has an empty cup. The first team member tosses the water across while the other person tries to catch it in his or her cup. Have them go back and forth a few times, taking a step back with each toss. Whichever team has the most water in their cup at the end wins. Too cold where you live to risk getting splashed? Make the game Thanksgiving-themed by tossing a marshmallow or candy pumpkin to catch in the cup. Or try a hard-boiled egg toss: Paint decorations on the eggs, and then go outside and make underhand tosses to each other, suggests Saunders. Teams will see how far apart they can go before an egg breaks.

At the playground

Try “pumpkin slide bowling.” Take that bowling activity to the playground, suggests Saunders. This time use empty soda bottles as pins, and set them up on the ground in front of a slide. Have each child carry a small pumpkin up the slide (assisting them if necessary) to roll down and knock over as many “pins” as possible at the bottom. Then they can slide down after! Setting up the bottles is good for small kids’ hand-eye coordination, and they’ll get exercise climbing up and down the slide, says Saunders.

Do a twist on classic games. Plan a traditional activity you can do as a group, like tag, football, or basketball, and then play by different rules. When the child gets a basket, for instance, everyone has to high-five them and cheer on both teams. Or, the parent has to do something silly when a kid scores, like a cartwheel or dance, suggests Wall. “Insert yourself in the fun,” he says. “Kids love when their parents are silly as long as you don’t embarrass them.”

Start a game of “turkey tag.” The player who’s “it” must run around the backyard like a turkey flapping his or her arms as wings, and all the other players must also run away like turkeys (gobbling optional!), suggests Saunders. If “it” gets you, you’re frozen in your spot, standing up with your legs spread apart.  To get free, a family member who is not caught must crawl between the caught person’s legs.

In the house

If the weather doesn’t cooperate, do some of the outdoor activities indoors if you have the space. Let kids act like spiders and crawl around furniture, suggests Wall. They can make a shape on the ground and have people guess what they’re supposed to be. You could also move activities to the garage if you have room, like the water tossing game or marshmallow toss. “Whether the activity is in the living room, garage, or bedroom, think about how comfortable you are if they get messy in there,” Wall says.


Read the full article on RealSimple.com.

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