Thanksgiving may look very different this year for a lot of families. With concerns surrounding a global pandemic, most will not get the opportunity to pursue annual Thanksgiving traditions such as getting together with family or friends. There’s no reason though to allow the current situation to get you down this holiday season. Regardless of your travel plans it is the perfect year to utilize active transportation throughout your holidays.

Getting out and being active is always important during the holidays but this year it is more important than ever as many people across the US struggle with increased seasonal anxiety and depression due to the increased spread of COVID-19. According to the CDC, common concerns for people during pandemics include fear and worry over your own or loved ones’ health, changes in sleeping or eating patterns, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, worsening chronic health problems, worsening mental health conditions, and increased use of tobacco, alcohol, or other substances. This may describe you or a loved one or perhaps you are doing well; regardless, active transportation can be beneficial for your Thanksgiving and beyond. Getting out and active can combat many of the previously stated concerns so here are some suggestions for you to “burn that bird.”

North Dakota has experience mild weather so far. This week temperatures throughout North Dakota are forecast to be anywhere between 30 and 40 degrees with little to no snow. We all know this can change in a matter of hours but, as of now it’s looking like a very fair holiday week! This is a great excuse to get outside before, during, or after holiday festivities. Below are some ways to “Burn that Bird” while enjoying the great outdoors.

Walk/Bike Your Errands:

Have you begun your holiday grocery shopping yet? Have you considered trying to walk or bike to the grocery store for your Thanksgiving essentials? If a turkey is on your shopping list, maybe make a separate trip for that and get smaller groceries while utilizing active transportation. If you live relatively close to your nearest grocer, throw on an empty backpack and set off on your journey to bring it back home full after packing it cornucopia-style at the store!

Take a Hike:

North Dakota State Park and Recreation Areas are the perfect place to get outdoors and enjoy nature over your Thanksgiving weekend. With the weather being as nice as it is for late November, why not take advantage of it and burn some calories in an enjoyable, family friendly way. North Dakota has 20 state parks/recreation areas and there’s a good chance you’re within a short drive of one. Many state hiking trails across the state are considered easy to moderate and are a creative way to enjoy the great outdoors before or after Thanksgiving. If you really want to get creative, have your Thanksgiving feast at a State Park/Recreation area over a fire or camp stove! Who says you need to cook a whole bird for Thanksgiving, this is an unusual holiday season so why not try something new? Always check with your nearest park for holiday hours of operation and remember to get your vehicle park pass. These can be purchased online or at the park ranger stations but again, best to check before you go.

Simple Walk/Ride:

How often in late November are we lucky enough to have no snow on the ground? Taking a simple walk or bike ride either alone, with a loved one(s), or with a furry friend, can be very beneficial for both body and mind. It’s something most folks can squeeze time in for and accomplish. Although it may not seem like much, being active even for as little as a half an hour can boost mood and begin to burn calories.

Walk/Bike to Holiday Destination:

Many people will be choosing to stay home this holiday season and others will choose to have smaller get-togethers. If you do choose to safely attend a small get together, consider bicycling or walking to get to your Thanksgiving destination if feasible. Please, always keep the Governor’s executive orders in mind, follow them, and be safe and careful this Thanksgiving. If it is safe for you to get together with a small group of family or friends, then walking or bicycling can be a healthy alternative to driving.

These are just a handful of examples of ways you can work active transportation into your Thanksgiving plans. Aside from these ideas, there are many ways to just be active in general. At home workouts, walking stairs at home, body weight exercises, or playing sports can all be simple ways to get a workout in at home and help you burn that bird. Regardless of how you choose to do it, consider being active for the holidays.

Also, please remember to connect with your loved ones even if it is from afar. Staying physically active and emotionally connected can help lift your holiday spirits.

The North Dakota Active Transportation Alliance wishes you a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

This article was written by Blayne Waselk, Secretary of the North Dakota Active Transportation Alliance.