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Staying Fit While On Vacation

Shot of a young family building a sandcastle on a beach

Summertime is vacation time! Lazy days to sit back, chill out, and let go of all the stress. But don’t let go of all your health habits. Getting in shape is hard to do, but getting out of shape can happen rapidly.

Sometimes a week of rest can be good for your body; still, it’s important to know what happens when you stop exercising. Cardiorespiratory fitness can decline, and you may find yourself needing to catch your breath more often. Basically, without the stress of exercising, the heart, lungs, and muscles can lose some ability to use oxygen effectively; in as little as two weeks, you can experience this decline or detraining.

Strength can also decline without the stress and use of exercise. Muscle fibers can decrease by 13%. Spikes  in blood sugar can occur without exercise to help absorb the additional sugar. Weight gain can happen because you may not be burning the same about of calories and the extra is stored as fat.

So, how can you stay fit on vacation while remaining relaxed? Here are three ways.

  1. Be an active tourist. Seeing the sights presents a wonderful opportunity to learn about your vacation location and get some exercise. The trick is to select tourist activities which will make you move. For example, savor the local flavor with a walking tour instead of a bus or car guide. Or, rent a bike. Guidebooks often provide several different tour options, and you could plan to do one a day. Or ask travel companions to pick spots they want to see and create your own plan.
  2. Find a sporting adventure. Yes, you could sunbathe all day at the beach – or you could try something totally new. How about learning to surf or playing beach volleyball? Paddleboarding can burn over 500 calories in an hour; even digging in the sand can use as many as 454 calories per hour. If you are a land lover, a hike through nearby parks and natural landmarks will keep you in shape while letting you explore wildlife and scenic views. Or ask about local soccer or basketball games; you’ll meet new people, get some exercise, and experience the sport from a different point of view.
  3. Dedicate 10 minutes a day. If you are set on doing as little activity as possible, then set aside time first thing in the morning to get exercise out of the way. Do a quick, high-intensity workout like going up and down stairs paired with push-ups or sprinting in a parking lot followed by planks for several repetitions. Also commit to adding in movement throughout the day; for example, you can take the stairs instead of the elevator, do squats while flossing your teeth, or balance on one leg as you wait to cross the street. You’ll still be getting in physical activity and can be guilt-free by the pool.

Staying fit while on vacation doesn’t need to be cumbersome or difficult. And you don’t need to pack weights or spend time in the gym. What you do need is to reset your thinking and consider vacation as time for active recovery or cross-training. That means getting out to enjoy your time off to the fullest!

Sources: BBC; CNN News 18; The Washington Post; Self; The New York Times; VeryWellFit.

Categories: Exercise