Staying Fit and Healthy with Your Family During the Holidays
November 10, 2020
By Bill Conn

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s can derail even the most meticulous diet and exercise plan, especially if you’re traveling to another city or country to visit your family. You’ll have unexpected obligations, unfamiliar surroundings, and—if your family is anything like mine—giant holiday meals to contend with during those six festive weeks. However, if you go into the holidays with a plan and a little willpower to stick with it, you can make it through with your fitness intact. If you’re planning on (safely) spending holidays with family this year, at home or away, follow these tips to stay fit and healthy.

Practice Air Travel Safety 

Traveling by plan looks a lot different now than pre-pandemic. If you plan on flying over the holidays, make sure you’re taking precautions to keep yourself and your family safe. Wear a mask, wash your hands often and try to keep six feet of distance between you and others (besides those in your household) at all times. And be sure to self-monitor for symptoms before you go—if you feel sick you should probably stay home.

Instead of slumping over at the airport gate while waiting during a layover, take a walk around the airport terminal. Staying active while you’re waiting allows you to take advantage of free time you didn’t expect to have. It’s especially important to keep your legs moving while flying since it helps you fight off potential health risks like deep vein thrombosis.

Explore a New City

Traveling for the holidays offers the perfect opportunity to explore a new city. It’s especially important no to find ways to stay active outside, where it’s easier to keep a distance from others. To stay both fit and healthy, explore on foot or by bike instead of in a car or taxi. Apps such as Strava will display popular running or biking routes near your location based on GPS, so you can explore favorite routes logged by local athletes. You’ll also be able to track your miles and other key stats to keep your fitness routine on track.

Limber Up Before the Big Meal

Before tucking into the turkey and pumpkin pie, encourage your family to work up an appetite with a group activity like touch football or soccer. It’s easy to set up goals in the backyard or a nearby park, it helps burn calories, and will keep the little ones occupied outside. If the weather is too cold or rainy, opt for an indoor activity that gets the kids up and moving, such as “Simon Says” or “Red Light, Green Light.”

Try the 50-Mile Challenge

Couple running in snowy woods.Commit to the “50-Mile Challenge” before Thanksgiving. This is your pledge to walk or run 50 miles over the 37 days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, which is a little over 1.3 miles per day. If you’re already in good shape, make it a 100-mile challenge instead. Make your commitment known at Thanksgiving dinner and see who will join you.

Make It a Bonding Experience

The holidays are all about reconnecting with family members you may not see much during the year. If you’re staying for a few days, suggest a walk or hike with your relatives. It will give you a chance to talk and catch up while generating some endorphins—the body’s feel-good hormones. And if you’re keeping your social distance this year, use a walk or hike as a time to call your relatives on the phone.

Get Rid of the All-or-Nothing Mentality

When visiting your family over the holidays, keep in mind that your time will not be your own. This may throw off your normal fitness routine, but don’t let it derail it completely. You may have to cancel or reschedule a workout or two, but don’t use it as an excuse to skip exercising for the entire trip. Improvise and be flexible. Any type of movement is better than no movement at all.

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About the Author

Bill Conn
Bill Conn is a travel enthusiast and writer at Scribewise. His favorite travel destinations include Shanghai, Vancouver, Munich – and of course, his home town of Philadelphia. Visit