Why Apple’s Thanksgiving Day Challenge could change your life

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Are you up to the challenge this Thanksgiving?
Are you up to the challenge this Thanksgiving?
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Apple is sending us mixed messages this Thanksgiving. On the one hand, it’s encouraging Apple Watch owners to get active with the Thanksgiving Day Challenge 2019. But on the other hand, it’s serving up new episodes of Apple TV+ shows a day early, so we can collapse onto the couch with full stomachs and do nothing all day.

If the couch sounds more tempting than a chilly November workout, you should think again. If you accept Apple’s Thanksgiving Day Challenge, it could be the most important workout you do all year.

Thanksgiving Day Challenge: What a difference a day makes

A single workout makes little difference to the state of your health, no matter how much effort you put in. So why does it matter if you do a workout on Thanksgiving Day?

Getting in shape is all about establishing health habits that you sustain over time. People often try to get started on January 1, with a New Year’s fitness resolution. Trouble is, these are notoriously hard to stick to. Maybe you last for a couple of weeks, but eventually you cave in to temptation.

In fact, with the horrible weather and post-holiday blues, January is probably the worst time of year to try a new workout regime. Whereas Thanksgiving is ideal.

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to start a healthy habit

As the holiday season kicks off, we’re about to be tempted into over-indulgence. This is a great reason to get a bit more active — to burn off those extra calories. Plus, unlike in January, when everyone is busy getting back to work or school, right now you are more likely to have some time on your hands.

Thanksgiving may be a time for family and friends, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit around vegetating in the living room. Why no go out for a walk together? You only have to walk 3.1 miles to earn Apple’s coveted turkey trophy.

Small changes make a big difference over time

The key to starting health habits is not to be too ambitious early on. That’s probably why Apple is only asking us to walk, run or use a wheelchair for 3 miles this Thanksgiving. That goal should prove achievable for most people.

Starting with easily achievable goals is a great way to establish a pattern of success on which you can build over time. Going for a 3-mile walk and earning Apple’s Thanksgiving Challenge medal could be the start of something special.

From there, why not set yourself the challenge of closing your Move ring every day for the rest of the year? All it takes is a short daily walk.

Close your rings every day in December, and you’ll earn another Activity award. Plus, you’ll have a head start on all the other New Year’s resolutioners.

Thanksgiving Day Challenge: Earn your turkey trophy

How to find the Thanksgiving Day Challenge award in the Activity app.
How to find the Thanksgiving Day Challenge award in the Activity app.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Apple’s Thanksgiving Day Challenge should show up in the Awards tab of the Activity app on your iPhone. If you can’t see it, that’s probably because your region is not set to United States. To check this, go to Settings > General > Language & Region. (You also may need to check the Language & Region in the Watch app).

Initially, it shows up as a gray outline of a medal. Tap on this to see details of what you have to do to earn it. In order to turn that gray outline into a colorful, shiny, 3D medal, you need to log a walking, running or wheelchair workout using the built-in Workout app on your Apple Watch. The distance must be at least 5 kilometers (3.1 miles). It can be further if you feel inclined!

If you don’t like using Apple’s Workout app, you can use a third-party watch app, as long as it supports HealthKit.

When you finish your workout, give it a few seconds for the workout data to sync across to your iPhone and boom! You have some shiny new bling in your virtual trophy cabinet.

Reasons to be thankful

Walking 3 miles is not a big challenge for most of us. But not everyone is so fortunate. So if you’re lucky enough to have healthy legs and feet, that’s something to be seriously thankful for. Make the most of it this Thanksgiving.