Vacations are great for reducing stress levels, but they can derail a healthy fitness regimen. Without their regular equipment and surroundings to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle, many people feel uncomfortable and lack their usual amount of energy. In fact, even some of the most dedicated exercisers find it difficult to stick with a workout program when away from home.
But, a vacation does not have to mean a vacation from your healthy eating and exercise habits.
“There is no need to abandon fitness goals while traveling,” says Mark A.W. Andrews, Ph.D., Professor of Physiology at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Erie, PA. “Even if bad weather forces you into seclusion in your hotel room, or the equipment available in the hotel gymnasium is less than optimal, there are plenty of exercises that you can complete without a single piece of equipment.”
While on vacation, modifications to your regular fitness routine may be necessary, but if you are creative and do some planning ahead, you can avoid coming home with “extra baggage.”
Dr. Andrews recommends the following tips to help you stay fit and focused while traveling:
• Be realistic. With so many exciting places to explore and activities to participate in, you probably won't be able to fit in regular daily workouts, and that’s okay. Aim for exercising at least every third day while on the road, performing at least a third of your aerobic routine at your typical level of intensity and completing your strength training program at least once a week, using the same amount of resistance. Keeping at least part of your routine intact will keep your energy level up and you should experience no decrease in your physical capacities once you return home.
• Plan ahead. Before leaving home, find out what type of workout facilities your accommodations will have. If you are staying somewhere that doesn't provide a workout area, then visit a nearby fitness center. Day passes for minimal fees are usually available.
• Investigate your new surroundings. There is no excuse for not finding places to exercise when every city has a great staircase, stadium, or tall building where you can master the stairs without a machine. If you don’t like stairs, cities have a lot of great places for walking, running or even hiking. Ask the hotel concierge if there are parks or trails nearby; or if you have ventured to the mountains, ask for a map of local hiking trails.
• Bring lightweight equipment. A resistance band is a great way to workout your upper and lower body. It is extremely lightweight and takes up virtually no room in your suitcase. Other packable lightweight equipment includes workout mats, light hand weights and an exercise bar for chin-ups.
• Don’t always go by the menu. When eating out on the road, try ordering without looking at the menu. Arrive at the restaurant with a healthy meal in mind, like steamed vegetables and broiled chicken, and just order it. But, don't deprive yourself of all local delicacies either. You can enjoy some special meals without going overboard. Most restaurants are amenable to preparing your favorite dishes with a few lower fat ingredients.
• Be creative. Find unique, fun ways to exercise instead of doing the same routine you do when you are at home. Try biking, a pedal boat excursion, water-skiing or beach volleyball. Effective workouts aren't limited to walking, jogging and fitness machines.
• Try out your travel routine at least once at home. A new workout that you've never done before will require more time and preparation. Such frustration just makes for an easy excuse to not workout.
• Prepare snacks. To avoid eating at fast food restaurants on the road or in airports, pack healthy snacks, like granola bars, pretzels, vegetables and fruit.
• Play in the pool. If lounging poolside is part of your vacation plan, then hop in the pool every 20 minutes for 5-10 minutes of pool walking (try it in waist-deep or higher water for a really challenging workout).
• Get comfortable. Don't forget to pack comfortable workout attire that fits your destination's climate.
These are just a few ways to keep up with your fitness routine while away from home. However, Dr. Andrews stresses that it’s important to also enjoy yourself while you’re on vacation, and sometimes a short break or alteration of your normal workout protocol can actually help you to refresh your body.
“The amount of stress relief you'll gain from enjoying life will be well worth a few missed workouts,” Dr. Andrews adds.
Preventive medicine is just one aspect of care osteopathic physicians (D.O.s) provide. Osteopathic physicians are fully licensed to prescribe medicine and practice in all specialty areas including surgery. D.O.s are trained to consider the health of the whole person and use their hands to help diagnose and treat their patients.
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