Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Do you ever feel like you need a vacation when you come home from one? Too much eating, drinking, and sitting around, combined with long hours in a plane, car, or maybe train, and it’s no wonder you feel sluggish and can’t get into your skinny jeans. But there’s hope. Instead of wreaking havoc on a fitness routine, travel can be an opportunity to make physical activity more interesting and fun, leaving you mentally and physically refreshed. Here are a few ways to help you do just that.
See the sights on foot or bike. Skip the bus tours and check out your new surroundings the old-fashioned way to burn calories while taking in the views.
Beat Deadly Sitting
Sitting for long periods isn’t just uncomfortable. It increases risk for blood clots in your legs and lungs, risk of chest pain or heart attack, and even risk of death. But a simple fix can produce surprising results.
A study at Western State Colorado University found that regularly standing up for five minutes, once every hour, or 10 minutes every two hours, dramatically improved health. Good cholesterol rose by 21 percent, triglycerides dropped by 24 percent, and blood sugar dropped by 6 percent. The key is consistent, short breaks to stand, walk around, or do virtually anything out of your seat. More intense exercise, less often, doesn’t produce the same results.
Exercises You Can Do While Sitting
If you’re sitting on a plane or in a car, these simple exercises help get blood flowing and keep muscles more toned.
- For core muscles: Sit up straight and while breathing out, pull your belly button toward the spine. Hold for about 20 seconds, while breathing normally, and then relax. Repeat two or three times.
- For legs and glutes: With a straight but relaxed back, march while sitting, picking up one knee and then the other, as high as you can. Alternate knees for 20 to 30 reps.
- For arms: Keeping elbows close to your sides, do 20 slow biceps curls, imagining resistance. Or, hold a laptop or bag for resistance.
Tourist Activities that Require Movement
Although many tourist attractions deluge visitors with food and drink and demand little, if any, physical exertion, there are plenty of fun ways to put your body to work. Hiking in nature, walking or biking to explore a city, running on a beach, sailing, kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling, horseback riding, or playing a sport (stay out of the golf cart) can be an invigorating experience. And some places offer more exotic options, like riding a camel.
Take Advantage of Hotel Gyms and Pools
This may be a no-brainer… or not. Hotel gyms are rarely crowded, and the classic poolside activity is sitting around, drink in hand. It’s perfectly fine to stand out from the crowd, swim a few laps, and explore the gym. You might discover novel equipment, or a class or trainer that brings a fresh perspective to your usual routines.
Not everyone wants to be active on vacation, and some have physical limitations. If you’re the lone fitness fan in your circle, plan for time alone to walk, run, or do an exercise routine each day. Useful things to pack include resistance bands, a jump rope, or other light equipment, such as collapsible weights you fill with water at your destination.
Maybe you’ll inspire your sedentary companions to get more active. Easy hiking or walking trails or a historical site with some stairs to climb could create a fun group experience.
On-the-Go Bodyweight Workout
These three moves will work your whole body and are simple to do, indoors or at the beach.
This is a good move to do while traveling because it activates core and back muscles and helps to correct imbalances from sitting and carrying luggage. Start on hands and knees. Lift the right arm and left leg, making a line nearly parallel with the ground, hold for a couple of seconds, and slowly lower to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. Do 12–15 reps each side.
Depending on your strength, do a full push-up or modify it, starting on your knees instead of toes, or with hands on a sturdy piece of furniture or against a wall. Start with the hands about shoulder-width apart, back straight, legs extended, to make a straight line from your head down to your toes, or knees. Use core muscles to maintain the posture. Bend elbows to lower your body, until the chest nearly touches the ground (or wall or other surface), and then push up to the starting position. Do 12–15 reps.
Start with feet hip-width apart, toes slightly angled outward, weight in your heels. Move your hips backward, keeping a straight back and shoulders down and relaxed, and then start to bend from the knees. Go down slowly, as far as you can, and then push through the heels to return to standing. If you’re afraid of falling backwards, do it over a chair (but don’t sit in it). Do 12–15 reps.