Ah, vacation! Get ready to kick back, relax and enjoy some well-deserved time away. And as you gather items to pack your suitcase — camera, book, toothbrush — don’t forget your favorite pair of jogging shoes.
That’s right. Taking a trip is no excuse to forgo exercise. After all, people typically consume more, and burn fewer, calories each day while on vacation. Your body needs exercise to offset that annoying side effect of all-you-can-eat buffets: weight gain.
Being away from daily responsibilities provides an excellent opportunity to maintain, add some variety, and even increase your exercise program. Travel is often planned around destinations of great beauty, such as the ocean or the mountains. These sites provide easy distractions to sneak a program of walking, running, swimming, or biking into your daily routine. The best part of this is that you may not even notice that you’re getting in a great workout while soaking in your surroundings. This change of scenery can give you added motivation to explore — and burn some calories in the process!
Before boarding the plane or getting in the car, remember to have realistic expectations about exercising while traveling. There’s a good possibility that you will break from your normal fitness routine. But instead of feeling guilty about it, or giving up altogether, find alternate ways to incorporate physical activity into your vacation.
Start by booking a hotel with a fitness center or swimming pool. If you can’t find a hotel with its own facilities, check out the fitness clubs or community pools in the area.
Next, plan to have fun on vacation even as you exercise. The following activities focus on increasing your heart rate:
- Go hiking in the mountains and enjoy the view.
- Go swimming at your hotel or in the ocean. Swimming is great for the heart and lungs and easy on the joints.
- Get off the beach blanket and play catch or volleyball with your family.
- Go for a brisk walk on the beach. Walking or running on sand generally burns more calories than on smooth pavement.
- Steer clear of cabs, and take a walking or bicycle tour of the area. The more places you can get to by foot, the better, and that includes taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Regular exercise has been shown to help control weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. It’s also a natural antidepressant and can help you generally feel better. In order to reap those rewards, you need to develop good habits at home and take them with you anywhere you go, including vacation.