What better time to make healthy changes in your exercise habits than when you’re away from the daily routine of home?
Vacations offer a great opportunity to make a fresh commitment to exercise, say fitness experts, and to have fun while you’re doing it. Even if you’re traipsing through theme parks with the kids rather than luxuriating at a fitness spa, you can still revamp your exercise routine—and maybe come home a few pounds lighter to boot. Here’s how:
- Walk, walk, walk. Plan to do your sightseeing on foot rather than by bus or car whenever possible, suggests Suzanne Schlosberg, author of “Fitness for Travelers: The Ultimate Workout Guide for the Road” (Houghton Mifflin, 2002). If you’re headed for an urban destination, book a walking tour or map out your own route through the city streets ahead of time. On days when you know you’ll be riding or sitting most of the time, get up a half-hour early and take a brisk stroll before breakfast. And at the airport, put those endless waits to good use by doing a couple laps around the terminal.
- Try something new. If your hotel has the facilities, going on the road can provide an opportunity to try something you haven’t tried before, like yoga, spinning or Pilates. Do a little basic research to find out what your hotel gym has, and be sure to pack appropriate workout clothes.
- Climb some stairs. Since most of us don’t have more than two or three flights of stairs in our homes, take advantage of your hotel’s built-in stair climber by forgoing the elevator whenever possible. Or, take the elevator halfway up, then get out and finish the journey to your room the old-fashioned way.
- Strap on a pedometer. A pedometer is a really good psychological tool. Set a daily goal for the number of steps you want to take—and stick to it. If you’re aiming for 10,000 steps, and at 1 in the afternoon you’ve only done 2,300, you’ll know you have to pick it up.
- Take advantage of natural resources. Do some homework to find out what kinds of outdoor activities will be available at your destination. Hiking, backpacking, bicycling, scuba/snorkeling, skiing, whitewater rafting, canoeing—the possibilities are endless. Book ahead for lessons or tours if you need to, and bring any equipment or special clothing required.
- Get in the swim. Any activity that involves water is pretty much guaranteed to appeal to kids and adults alike. Even if your hotel or condo doesn’t have its own indoor or outdoor pool, many accommodations offer their guests access to a nearby facility—just ask. Or, check with your local YMCA or health club before you go to see if they offer reciprocal benefits in areas where you’ll be traveling. Another option: Click on SwimmersGuide.com, a listing of more than 18,000 publicly accessible, full-size, year-round swimming pools around the world.
- Be realistic. Don’t try to take on more exercise than you can safely handle. A sunset jog along the beach may seem much more appealing than the health club treadmill at home—but your muscles will be just as sore the next day if you overdo it.