A UVA Heart & Vascular Center Initiative

Get Your Family Moving

Posted June 20, 2013

The holidays are a wonderful time for family and friends to gather and spend quality time together. It also tends to be a time when we are more sedentary and indulge in large meals and delicious desserts. Refraining from family recipes may be a challenge, but you can diminish the effects and create wonderful memories by incorporating exercise and physical activities into your holiday traditions.

These fun ideas will get everyone off the couch

Enjoy the fall foliage

Take a hike on any portion of the 20+ miles of Rivanna trails in and around Charlottesville or along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Check these websites for maps, origination points for various parts of the trails with length, cumulative mileage and footing description; trail conditions and trail rules.


Take a community walk

Walk or jog with your family around your neighborhood, the downtown mall or UVA campus. Go at any pace that allows you to socialize and enjoy the fresh air.

Pick pumpkins or apples at a local orchard

Carter’s Mountain boasts beautiful views as well as the opportunity to pick your own apples and pumpkins.


Play games

Prefer to stay close to home? Bring out your inner youth and play tag, red/light green light or even Simon Says. Little kids love to have grown-ups involved in “their games” and if little ones aren’t around, enjoy being a kid again yourself!

Ready for some football? Kickball? Stickball?

You don’t have to be an acclaimed athlete to enjoy some friendly competition. Rules can be bent to accommodate all fitness, age and skill levels. The goal is to get everyone moving and enjoying the activity and each other and avoiding being sedentary over the holiday.

When time for the meal, follow these tips to keep from overeating but still enjoy the foods you love:

  1. Don’t go to the table hungry.  Be sure to have had some fiber-rich snacks prior to the meal.
  2. Give yourself time to digest before going back for seconds; you may find you are too full to go back.
  3. If you would like to try everything, be sure to take very small portions.
  4. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and with dinner.
  5. If you overeat on Thanksgiving, don’t get frustrated and throw your healthy eating out the window. Get back on track the next day with your exercise program and healthy eating habits, rather than continue to overeat throughout the holidays.

— By Erica K. Perkins

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