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Holiday Healthy Family Traditions

by YMCA November 12, 2009

Touch Football

 A long time ago, I made a conscious decision to be more active and eat healthier over the holidays.  I understand that this is something that many people have trouble doing, but by making increased physical activity part of a holiday tradition, it can actually become something that the whole family looks forward to.

As Professionals in physical activity, we should look at a variety of ways to assist people in becoming more active, and the holidays actually offer all kinds of creative and fun outlets to family physical activity. My wife and I ski every Thanksgiving Day, no matter what.  And after the Thanksgiving meal, we ALWAYS take a two mile walk (regardless of the time, weather, or what is on TV).  We also used to participate in some neat Y programs too (Huff and Puff while you Stuff was one of our favorites), and we gently persuaded any visiting family to join in these additional activities.  If shopping is part of the upcoming holiday season, try what we do; park the car “a short hike” from the mall entrance to get some extra minutes of activity towards the recommended guidelines of 150 minutes per week of moderate activity.  It’s almost become a game we play to see how many different things we can do (at a moderate intensity level) that last at least 10 minutes that count towards the 150 minute guideline. 


Family traditions play a crucial role in the healthy or unhealthy choices a family makes about eating and physical activity, and with the holidays just around the corner, why not choose to start some healthy traditions this year.  The YMCA has a great, free resource called Healthy Family Home, available at  Healthy Family Home outlines all kinds of simple yet effect ways families can eat healthier, be more physically active and spend more time together.  No matter what your role is in encouraging or leading physical activity, you’ll find all kinds of uses for YMCA Healthy Family Home.


The tips in YMCA Healthy Family Home work year round, but trying them out around the holidays may help jumpstart some new family traditions.  Other suggestions include playing a vigorous game of touch football rather than watching TV Football Half-time reports.  All of the tips in Healthy Family Home focus on small, simple things, that when combined, can have a positive effect on your family’s health and well-being.  Check out YMCA Healthy Family Home.  What are you doing to help create healthy family traditions?


Also visit our website at


Family Traditions | Active Advice


11/16/2009 7:20:08 PM #

Nice article!  Wouldn't it be great if the new tradition was to NOT gain weight between Halloween and the New Year!  If we all make some small changes and help others do the same, we can do it.

Diana United States |

11/18/2009 10:33:02 PM #

Hi Diana  For some folks, meeting the physical activity guidelines (through new or old choices or traditions) does play a role in weight management.  What do you think about new and unique activities (as part of family traditions) that are done "just for the joy" of doing it?  Weight management or loss is just a side benefit.

Jim Kauffman |

11/18/2009 10:25:30 PM #

Hi Colin  Care to comment on any of the unique intergenerational programs you've seen, heard about, or been part of?  

Jim Kauffman United States |

11/19/2009 7:24:48 AM #

Great idea to take a two mile walk after Thanksgiving. That is a family tradition that would benefit many families. Thanks for sharing.

Karen United States |

11/19/2009 3:31:04 PM #

Incorporating physical activity into family holiday traditions is a wonderful idea for all the reasons mentioned in this post.  It’s also important to note that physical activity can help individuals cope with the mental health challenges associated with the holidays, such as stress, anxiety, and depression.

Tom Richards, IHRSA United States |

4/16/2010 7:02:14 AM #

These are such great ideas. It's easy to just eat and sit down with family over the holidays, but planning exercise can make for great family traditions! If it's not too cold, we like to at least walk to the church for the Christmas service. Thanks for giving me a ton of new ideas!

North Stradbroke Island Australia |

7/7/2010 8:52:47 AM #

Holidaying with your family or attending youth sessions with your teenage kid is a real stress buster and it also helps in building bonding strength.It also makes you more active and confident.

christian wilderness program United States |

9/22/2010 6:38:09 AM #

Discover what health and well-being risks you are putting yourself and your family under when you cut corners on healthy habits. Every now and then we all think it is better to take the shortcut around our healthy habits, but is it really? I have compiled a list of corner cutting habits every family has, and these should be eliminated within the entire family in order to build a healthy happy family.

 Dr Dominick Lembo United States |

9/30/2010 11:36:35 PM #

I totally identify with this article and agree that we should try to do some physical activity during the holidays. However, holidays are about the food. The first thing that you are thinking when you hear about a holiday is a table full with GREAT food... So I agree that this is the time to exercise, but it's almost impossible.

Jonathan Marselle United States |

10/5/2010 9:33:53 AM #

Quality time with your children is the biggest gift you can give, not only doing activities but also being interested in them as an individual. Of course physical activities are important but that is only one spoke in the wheel.
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lyndsey Aldridge Germany |

10/5/2010 6:35:24 PM #

thank you for sharing the healthy tips, I had check on the YMCA site already and am looking forward to talk my wife about these activities

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Kevin Megan Australia |

10/13/2010 2:36:13 PM #

I think your post was just terrific because even though people often overeat during the holidays, why not incorporate traditions with a physical bent to counter-act the effects of overeating?  Even wooden Advent calendars could include physical exercise in each of the drawers to be opened each day.  Family activities centered around exercise each day in the lead-up to Christmas. Got me thinking, for sure!  Thanks! United States |

12/6/2010 4:27:47 AM #

Nice post!  Wouldn't it be great if the new tradition was to NOT gain fats between Halloween and the Christmas!  If we all make some little changes and help others do the same like we did, we can do it easily.

Motorcycle Clock United States |

8/22/2011 6:13:37 AM #

Well, i like the idea of taking walks after a hearty meal like that of thanksgiving! Besides it is one sure way to bond as a family.
Keep up the tradition and share it with others
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Zanzibar Holidays Kenya |

1/11/2012 12:20:00 PM #

This was really interesting. I liked the fact that they would ski every thanksgiving day.

Phoebe Ballard United States |

1/11/2012 12:22:05 PM #

This article is very informational and helpful.

Veronica United States |

1/11/2012 1:43:18 PM #

iLeared You Kan Be Activee & healthy While Spending Time With Your Family. Because Usally i & my Family dont Really Do Anything Together We Just Do What We Got To Do, But This  iS A Good iDea To Have Family Time & To be iN Shape.

SwaggNationn 2Na Korea |

1/11/2012 3:03:39 PM #

These are such great ideas. It's easy to just eat and sit down with family over the holidays, but planning exercise can make for great family traditions!

Gabby G United States |

1/11/2012 3:09:02 PM #

i run 2 miles after all the holidays soooooo i dont get fat my family alwayse do it and even my grampa

jonathan BOYZZ United States |

1/11/2012 3:12:13 PM #

I find this article very insteresting because it tell you that toghther as a family you can acheive many things. You can enjoy your holidays and exercise at the same and have so much fun. Like you can go skiing in the winter ot hiking in the summmer.

Lilian Sheckler <3 United States |

1/11/2012 3:38:05 PM #

I agree with you that family time is important during the holidays. Its a good time to do it since your whole family comes around

Jenna United States |

1/12/2012 12:13:24 PM #

Healthy families is always a good thing. My family for instice is very close and happy together. One of our most favorite tradtions is whenever it's a birthday, we go and serve them breakfast in bed and either let them stay home from school or wait until the weekend to go shopping ((:. Our children and very loving to each other and treat ewveryone with respect. Without my children my life wouldn't be complete!

Madisyn Australia |

5/23/2012 3:58:02 PM #

The (Link Removed) (Link Removed) supplies newmarket</a> offers at a number of locations has become a kind of tradition for my family.  We always build a really extravagant fort and play paintball.  Smile  Lots of fun.

Finrod Felagund United States |

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