Thanksgiving is undoubtedly a time for turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and gravy.
But for many throughout the region, the holiday best known for giving thanks and piling the plates high, is also a time for getting some exercise.
“Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays,” said Karyn Patry, of York, Maine. “It’s all about spending time with our family.”
For the Patrys that has always meant fitting in some time together outside doing something active.
When the children were younger it was walks, bike rides and raking leaves, but Patry said now that daughters Emlyn, 10 and Layne — who will turn 11 on Thanksgiving Day — are a bit older, in recent years the family has walked or run together in local road races.
“We’ve done the Turkey Trot in York, the Free Fall 5K in Rochester and this year we’re hoping to go skiing,’ she said. “It gives us something healthy to do as a family.”
That’s not to say the Patrys don’t savor the pies and turkey, it’s just that fitting in some exercise makes them feel like there is “some balance” to the celebration, she said.
“It allows for a good mix,” Patry said. “We have our pie, then we ski, hike or do something fun together. We feel out of our element if we don’t do something.”
And the Patrys are far from alone.
Eliza Peter said she and her family — including three children — usually take a walk with some family friends.
Anne Baker said she remembers as a child that her father and brothers always headed to the local golf course on Thanksgiving Day.
“It was definitely a tradition,” she said.
In fact, Patry said to make certain that her family has a “bonding activity” on their agenda in addition to the parade and dinner, they always plan something.
For instance, this year if it’s cold enough, she, husband Jeffrey and the two girls expect to try something new either on Thanksgiving or the day after.
“We plan to ski our turkey off this year,” she said. “If not, it’ll be fun anyhow even if we only fit in a hike.”
Though some might balk that the cool temperatures this time of year don’t lend themselves to exercise, Patry disagrees.
She said the colder weather actually is the perfect time for the family to be outdoors.
“This time of year it seems like there are a lot of things to do and it’s the perfect weather, because it’s not too hot or humid,” she said.
Still even Patry — who runs routinely by herself or with her daughters in road races — said it is best to schedule any activities in advance.
“I find if you don’t have a plan, setting some time aside for something active, it would never happen,” she said. “You get caught up in the hubbub and craziness of the holidays.”
Though Patry admitted it does make the family a “little time regimented,” the benefits far outweigh the advance planning necessary.
“You feel so much healthier and you spend time all together too,” she said. “It’s definitely important to do something that you can all enjoy.”
Certainly for the Patrys that is more than just pumpkin pie.