What’s the Best Exercise After Thanksgiving Dinner?

If you have enough energy and you are wondering about the best exercise after Thanksgiving, congratulations for having the motivation to work out. Many people, who blame the amino acid tryptophan in turkey meat for causing sleepiness after the traditional turkey dinner, are actually tired from travel, overeating, longer nights and the beginning of the stress of the holiday season. If you have eaten a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner, you are digesting a generous mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The heavy combination puts a load on the stomach and digestive system which in turn gets priority blood flow. The muscles and the rest of the body are not getting as much blood circulation. That can make you feel tired and sleepy.

Within two hours of finishing your meal, you should avoid intense exercise. You probably won’t be in the mood anyway. The best exercise is a nice brisk walk with family and friends. Especially if you are relatively new to exercise. A brisk walk is not intense enough to require the two-hour wait after eating.

If you’re really ambitious, you probably have a home gym setup or a membership at a 24/7/365 gym. The post Thanksgiving Dinner workout is a good time to focus on the musculoskeletal system. Consider working on ‘tune-up’ exercises, such as your shoulder rotator cuff tendon exercises, Yoga exercises, or flexibility exercises. If your stomach is still distended, avoid hard flexion at the hips and low back. If you choose weight training, consider slow reps with extra attention to form and healthy, full breathing with full range of motion muscular contraction effort. Light-to-moderate cardio is also a good choice.

Friday you can pick up the intensity again, just watch out for Black Friday shoppers if you are on an outdoor training run or other outdoor cardio trek. There are plenty of preoccupied drivers in heavy traffic that have a shopping list on their minds, not pedestrian traffic.

The most important point about Thanksgiving and exercise and diet is to recognize that Thanksgiving is part of an eating season that begins with Halloween candy in October and ends with Valentines Day chocolates in February. Couple this prolonged eating season with inactivity associated with winter months; and many people gain a quick 10 pounds or more. Don’t let Thanksgiving be a turning point that leads you to turn off your activity switch and turn on your eating machine. Rest is great for the body.  Just like rest and sleep are needed every day, the same goes for exercise. Activity includes cardio or aerobic work and progressive resistance or weight training. Examples of cardio are fast walking, running, swimming, exercise on elliptical machines, and exercise on stair climbers. Examples of acceptable weight training include, circuit training, multi-set weight training, and body weight exercises, such as push-ups, chin-ups, dips, squats and lunges. Beginners should do weights about every other day and some type of cardio should be done four to six days per week. Starting out slow the first three to six weeks.