Try These Things Before Thanksgiving Dinner ... Please!
November 27, 2019
This Thursday may be one of the best holidays of the year. It may also be one where you need to take extra precautions for your health.
Doing a little exercise before a meal can be one way to reduce the risk of a heart attack for those who may be in that risk group. But, who can think about exercising when you've got the task of making sure a 15 lb turkey and a countless number of yummy side dishes all make it to the table?
Overdoing it on the turkey and mashed potatoes might actually do more damage than popping your pants button. One study even found that eating an unusually heavy and rich meal may quadruple an individual’s risk of having a heart attack, provided they already have other risk factors like high blood pressure and cholesterol. But please don't let this ruin your dinner. Experts say this risk is probably slim-to-none for most people, but it’s a good reminder not to really overdo it at the table.
Still, in between all that cooking, it's worth making some time to lace up your shoes. Just a few brisk laps around the block will do wonders. Others may do their annual turkey trot run. Doing so just might help you keep mind working while in the kitchen and assembling all the different parts of the meal
Compared to being inactive, hourly 5-minute microbursts of moderate exercise may boost your energy and stave off fatigue, and keep cravings at bay, finds a study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. The extra movement increases blood flow, which could play a role in helping you feel alert. Being active is also thought to suppress hunger and act as a sort of buffer to take your mind off of food for a while, the researchers say.
That's not all. There's a more important reason why you should make some time to get moving before everyone starts piling their plates with turkey: The extra activity might be good for your heart.
It's no secret that regularly eating fatty, salty, sugary fare does bad things to your ticker. But even if you normally eat pretty clean, one over-the-top meal like Thanksgiving dinner could still hurt your heart, research shows. Your body isn't able to metabolize everything fast enough. It stresses your system. Loading up on salt and booze raises your blood pressure, while high blood sugar spikes can increase arterial inflammation and decrease blood vessel function. And mass quantities of saturated fat (we’re looking at you, buttery mashed potatoes) literally flood your bloodstream, raising your cholesterol levels.
Of course, going easy on the pie and gravy is one obvious option—on Thanksgiving and throughout the rest of the holiday season. But all that deliciousness can be hard to resist, especially if it's one of those rare treats that you've been looking forward to for weeks.
A pre-dinner walk is the ticket to having your turkey and stuffing and eating it, too. Aerobic activity before a meal can help keep levels of unhealthy triglyceride-rich proteins in check in the bloodstream, found a review of some 70 studies published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.
How exactly does exercise help?
When you're active, your body pumps out hormones like adrenaline that actually work to clear unhealthy particles from your bloodstream. It also makes your arteries more flexible, so they're better at constricting or expanding as needed. "By exercising, you promote good arterial health and prevent the deposition of bad cholesterol on the arterial wall.
In short, a 10- to 15-minute walk before dinner is definitely a good idea. If you can squeeze in that local 5K, even better. Any exercise you do will help you mitigate the effects of Thanksgiving dinner.