Main menu Open search menu

The Best Holiday Workout, Depending on How Much You Plan to Eat

BY: Editors | Nov 17, 2017

There are a lot of things to love about Thanksgiving: pie, football, quality time with loved ones... pie. One thing not to love: the knowledge that the average American consumes a whopping 4,500 calories on Turkey Day.

If that number makes you want to start planning your holiday workout now, you're probably not alone. But how do you know which workouts burn the most calories? What if you only semi-indulge on Thanksgiving Day? Below, we analyzed some of the most popular workout classes on our sites and evaluated their calorie-busting potential. To figure out which one is the best fit your holiday fitness plan, just start by asking yourself: how much am I planning to eat?

The "I've Waited All Year For This" Plan:

What you're eating: The full Thanksgiving spread, including turkey, stuffing, sides, dessert, and a glass of wine or two.

Average calories consumed: 4,500

Your holiday workout: Indoor Cycling

A vigorous spinning class at a race-like pace of 16–20 mph, which should include changes in resistance and elevation, can burn about 740 calories in an hour. In terms of calorie counting, that's enough to eat more than two slices of homemade pumpkin pie. Clock six workouts over the course of a week, or two weeks, and you'll have completely burned off your Thanksgiving calories and banished your eating pants back to the back of the closet. Congrats!

We also suggest finding an instructor who's keen on adding weightlifting sections that use small dumbbells. That way you'll build strength, in addition to boosting your endurance and cardiovascular capacity. These will come in handy when you need the stamina to clear and clean all those dishes, and, more importantly, to fight with your family over that last slice of pie.

The "Easy-Does-It" Plan:

What you're eating: A lightened-up version of your Thanksgiving meal, including turkey (without skin), stuffing, and "clean" sides like cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and brussels spouts, plus a glass of champagne and one slice of pumpkin pie.

Average calories consumed: 2,000

Your holiday workout: Zumba

Way to go! You managed to indulge in a lot of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes without going overboard, and now you're probably feeling full, but not stuffed. That means, you won't be too weighed down to dance around and have some fun with your workout. Enter: Zumba, the Latin-dance inspired aerobics class that can burn up to 600 calories an hour. No matter your level of dance skill, it should be easy enough to follow the instructor through dance steps and aerobic moves set to hip-hop and Latin beats.

In fact, you might love Zumba so much that you decide to keep up with the classes all through the holiday season. If so, you'll be able to gobble up cookies and challenge relatives to a dance battle by Christmas.

The "I'm Just Here For the Pie" Plan:

What you're eating: Maybe you had to work Thanksgiving Day or maybe you just prefer to save all your calorie spending for dessert. Either way, when pie is the main event, you're having second helpings (and probably a glass of wine or two).

Average calories consumed: 800

Your holiday workout: Hot yoga

Sure, you skipped the turkey and the stuffing and the creamy soup-based casseroles, but you're still feeling not-so-hot after all that sugar and alcohol. Time to sweat it all out in hot-yoga classes, which can burn up to 450 calories per 90-minute session Unlike more typical yoga classes, these are held in studios heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40% percent humidity. That alone will force you to sweat, but the practice also emphasizes quickly flowing from one posture to another, challenging your flexibility and strength. Just make sure to rehydrate (with water) afterward.

You'll only need two sessions to totally burn off your Thanksgiving dessert, but consider keeping with the practice until New Year's. Why? Proponents say it is a detoxifying and spirit-lifting experience, which means you might just be inspired to make class attendance one of your resolutions going into the new year.

This article was originally written by staff writer Kate Raftery in 2016. It has since been updated.