How to Stay Fit on Your Trip
Vacations are a chance to relax, reconnect with family and friends, recharge and explore new places. Exercise is often the last thing on your mind. That’s a mistake.
Here’s what happens on most vacations. You probably indulge in rich foods, eating more than you would at home. You might be spending more time with family or relatives than normal, increasing stress levels. You’re usually sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings, making it harder to rest. Each day you’re on vacation can put up to a pound on your waistline.
Now think about what a little exercise can do. It’ll burn off a few of those extra calories. It’ll be a reminder that it’s OK to sample foods, but you don’t have to stuff yourself. It gives you a chance to burn off frustrations and stress. It can wake you up if you workout early, or tire you out if you exercise before bed. The key is planning ahead to make it happen.
When I plan a trip, I start with a list of places I want to see and people I want to spend time with. Then I see if any of those things can be done in an active way.
A trip I’ve done regularly is visit family in Alaska. The last time I went was in the middle of winter, the temperature was 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit and it was only light a few hours of the day.
One of the things I love doing there is relaxing in the waters of Chena Hot Springs. So I looked into other activities at the resort and found they’re surrounded by cross-country skiing trails. I called and reserved a set of skis, then started my visit doing a 90-minute run around the resort. The scenery was breathtaking and the skiing was an amazing workout. After I finished, the water of the hot springs felt even better than usual.
Similar options like that are available everywhere. A friend driving cross-country spent a day with family biking the Appalachian Trail. In New Orleans you can take a graveyard tour and Seattle takes tourists underground. On my first trip overseas I scheduled a walking tour of the historic city neighborhoods. In Key West there are paddleboard, kayak and snorkel tours. Search the city name you’re visiting and add “walking tours” or “active tours” to find options.
If you prefer doing things at your own pace, there are apps you can use to take a walking tour of the city you’re visiting. The apps use your phone’s GPS to figure out where you are and narrate as you move from place to place. Just be careful not to block sidewalks or step into a street without looking.
Use changes in time zones to your advantage. When I travel from my home in Key West to Los Angeles, I “gain” three hours. Getting up at my normal 6:00 am is three o’clock in the morning in L.A. So I use that time to go out, get a run in and grab an early breakfast before most other people wake up.
The reverse is also true. If you’re going to a time zone a couple hours ahead of you, workout in the evening while you’re still wide awake and everyone else is going to bed. It’s certainly better than laying around watching television for hours until you get sleepy.
When exercise isn’t part of the tour, locate exercise opportunities near where you’re staying. Programs like Map My Run can help you can find running and jogging routes in cities across America. Choose hotels with a gym and you can squeeze a 30-minute workout in before dinner. If you want something more intense, apps like Gym Finder can tell you what gyms are nearby, when the clubs are open and how much a day pass will cost.
Be careful using gym finder websites online. Most of the ones I tested showed locations that had been closed for 10 years or more, while completely ignoring anything new. If you can’t use the Gym Finder app, I suggest calling your hotel to ask for suggestions before you arrive. You can also check with friends or family that live in the area for recommendations.
As a last resort, if you’re in the middle of nowhere or really pressed for time, download some fitness apps to your smartphone. Try out the weight free workouts at home before you leave, so you feel comfortable with how they work. Then follow along with the program when you have a little extra time in your hotel room.
With a little planning, your vacation can be both fun and fit.
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