Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thanksgiving started with a trot

Even in the cold weather, what better way to start off Thanksgiving morning than with a little outdoor exercise before the feast?

While this may not be your idea of fun, this is exactly what some UnitedHealthcare employees and their families did.  They joined more than 7,000 people who participated in the 23rd Annual YMCA Turkey Trot in downtown Pittsburgh.  The YMCA Turkey Trot included 5-mile and 5K races and a 1-mile fun run. 

UnitedHealthcare employees and their families got together for a photo with Y of Greater Pittsburgh CEO Rig Riggins (second from right) and Senior Vice President of Development Carolyn Grady (far right) before the YMCA Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day

The race benefitted the Y of Greater Pittsburgh’s urban branches. The funds help to ensure that all members of the community can participate in Y programs, regardless of income.  The Y also collected nonperishable food items in its 1,000 pound challenge to support its food bank at its branch in the Hazelwood neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Turkey trots are about more than just burning off a few extra calories to offset the extra helpings of turkey, stuffing and pie.  They are also an excellent reminder to all of us to be thankful for what we have, including our health.

During the holiday season, it’s easy to get carried away by the endless list of things that we need to do. Between the shopping, decorating, cooking and cleaning, plus the holiday parties and family gatherings, it’s easy to put health on the back burner.

But I urge everyone to make health a priority this holiday season.

Taking the time from our busy schedules to cook a healthy meal and get some exercise can provide tremendous physical and mental benefits.  Not only does a regular routine of exercise and good nutrition prevent holiday weight gain, but it also contributes to good mental health.  Many studies have shown that exercise can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, which many people experience during the holiday season.

I’m not suggesting that anyone forego making cookies with the family this year or skip out on holiday parties.  But perhaps instead of watching the football game on TV, it might be a good time to start a tradition of playing a game in the backyard or the park. And making sure that piece of pie is balanced with plenty of fruits and vegetables can go a long way toward feeling physically and mentally better this holiday season. 

I hope all of my readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and are beginning a happy and healthy holiday season!

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