How Much to Work Out to Burn Off the Average Thanksgiving Meal

Before you gobble away this holiday, feast on this bit of perspective.

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Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks, but it’s also a time to stuff your face with copious amounts of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and pumpkin pie.

In this haze of Thanksgiving bliss, many people throw their health goals out the window and eat until they’re uncomfortable and have to unbutton their jeans. While it’s 100 percent OK to indulge during the holidays, it’s important  to remember that conquering any long-lasting health change requires balance.

For any other holiday, finding balance may mean having a lower-calorie lunch so you can enjoy eggnog and cookies by the fire later, or going for a run after indulging in the cheese platter at the holiday party the night before. (Here are other tricks to avoid holiday weight gain this season.)

But Thanksgiving dinner is a whole ‘nother beast.

According to the Calorie Control Council (CCC), a typical Thanksgiving dinner can set you back a whopping 3,000 calories—and that’s just what’s on your plate. Add the appetizers and drinks before and after, and the third helpings of well, everything, and according to the CCC, you may just reach 4,500 calories for one holiday meal.

While enjoying one gluttonous meal may not sabotage your health, it can definitely put a damper on your slim-down efforts. Before you gobble away this holiday, feast on a bit of calorie perspective. This is how much you’d have to exercise to burn off 4,500 calories (estimates are based on a 155-lb person):

  • Run 30 mins a day … for 15 days.
  • Walk for an hour a day … for 16 days.
  • Do yoga 30 minutes a day … for 30 days.
  • Do laps in the pool for an hour … for 9 days.
  • Take an hour hike every weekend … for the next 3 months.

Sweating just thinking about all that working out? That’s because that regimen is a bit unrealistic for most folks. Instead of living at the gym for the next several weeks, think about ways you can do diet damage control before and during your Thanksgiving meal. Here are ways to have a healthier Thanksgiving: