This year, I’m going to get in shape.
We’ve all heard that before – and there’s a good chance many of us have said it at one point in our lives. The New Year brings on resolutions galore, and staying in shape is a common one. In fact, 10% of people said losing weight is their top resolution for 2017, the same percentage of people who resolved to exercise more, according to the Marist Poll.
Still, weight loss and exercise were not the number one resolution for 2017. That honor goes to “being a better person,” which 16% of people said is their top priority. I will say that’s refreshing to hear, and I think it’s a reflection of some of the things we all experienced in 2016.
But I digress.
Losing weight and exercising are an important part of staying healthy. While I maintain a steady workout schedule at home (sometimes), that routine goes right out the door when I hit the road. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s difficult to stay fit when you’re traveling. Personally, my motivation is usually focused on getting out and seeing the sites, not fitting in a work out.
The good news is that you can do both. Fitness doesn’t have to take a backseat when you’re on vacation. Here are some simple things you can do to stay fit while traveling.
Go for a Run or Walk
Running is my exercise of choice, mostly because you can get a great sweat session in and get a look at a new city, all at the same time. Plus, all you need to pack is some running shoes and a couple workout outfits. Sometimes, I’ll even sign up for a race in a city I’m visiting as even more motivation to get out there, and run a course I may not have taken otherwise.
Most big cities have running or walking trails that weave through parks or along rivers, lakes or the ocean. (See my post on running routes in Boston). It’s a great way to introduce yourself to a city. If you’re staying at a hotel, you can ask the concierge or receptionist for recommendations on good running trails. If you’re renting a house or apartment, refer to websites like Map My Run or Runners World, which both offer route finders for various cities.
Running is not for everyone, and if you’re not a runner, then walking is a good alternative. You can locate the same routes, but opt for a slower pace. You could even argue – as I often do – that walking around a city hitting all the different attractions is technically a workout. Walking the streets for a few hours is definitely a good way to burn some calories and knock of few items off your travel to do list.
Keep Track of Your Steps
There’s a lot of research out there that says taking 10,000 steps a day – roughly equal to walking five miles – is good for your health. I’m not saying I believe all the hype around getting all your steps in, but staying sedentary certainly won’t help you stay fit. Luckily, this goal is a lot easier to achieve when you’re traveling. In fact, a couple hours of walking around a city could put you over your goal. Even if you don’t hit 10,000, monitoring your steps is a good way to see how active you’re being, and how you can improve. Fitbit and Garmin are great to use to keep track of your activity, but if you don’t have those, you can use your phone. The health app on the iPhone automatically counts your steps throughout the day.
Get in some Intervals
If you don’t like to run, but walking isn’t enough of a workout for you, try high intensity interval training. These are quick bursts of activity that usually don’t last longer than 30-60 seconds. Here is one of my favorite interval workouts:
- 50 jumping jacks – warm up to get your heart rate up
- 3 rounds of the following, 30 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest
- Jump squats – squat down and then propel yourself up into a jump, then land softly and move right back into the squat.
- Push ups
- Side lunges – step to the right into a lunge and then switch to the other leg
- Tricep dips
- 45 second plank, 10 second rest, another 45 second plank
- 50 jumping jacks to finish it off
It takes less than 15 minutes, and you don’t need any equipment. I’ve done this workout in hotel rooms before heading out for the day. Super quick, invigorating, and a great way to start the day.
Bring on the Resistance
Weight and resistance training is good for you. It builds muscle, increases strength and tones your body. Free weights or weight machines are not always accessible when you’re traveling, unless you’re staying at a hotel with a fitness center. With the rise in home sharing and rentals, there’s less opportunity to go to a gym. You can still do some resistance training using your body weight (push ups, sit ups, lunges, squats, etc.), but the downside is that you can’t change your body weight to increase the resistance. If you want more of a challenge, bring along some resistance bands. They are easy to pack and can be used anywhere to enhance your workout.
Practice some Yoga
Another activity you can do in the comfort of a hotel or an airbnb (or even outside in a park or on the beach) is yoga. If you have a mat, that’s great, but you don’t necessarily need one to do some basic moves to stretch your muscles. It may not be a heart-pumping workout, but it helps with flexibility, strength and balance. You can do some standing positions like dangle pose to release your lower back, tree pose to challenge your balance or some warrior poses to strengthen your legs. Yoga offers a lot of great options for a quick workout that isn’t too intense, but you’ll definitely feel it when you’re done. I don’t do yoga very often, and I find that doing it when I travel – even just one time – helps both my body and my mind relax. It’s a way to get in tune with your body, take some time to breath and let go of stress, and take in the moment. It’s especially nice to do outside, where the environment adds to the experience.
Get your Dance On
Do you love to dance? I have some good news. That’s exercise. Sometimes a workout routine or a jog sounds boring, and it can be tough to get in the right mindset for those kinds of activities, especially when you’re distracted by what’s waiting for you in a new destination. But what better way to get your heart rate up than to bust out some dance moves to your favorite songs? Turn on a couple upbeat pop songs and get moving. And don’t keep it reserved, go all out! The more movement involved, the better. It’s not like anyone’s watching.
Try a New Sport
This won’t be an option everywhere you go, but if you’re heading to a place that has a lot of outdoor activities, you can easily get in a workout while simultaneously having a great experience. When I was in Australia, I went stand up paddle boarding. It’s an awesome way to work your arms and your core. You can even try yoga while on the paddle board, but I have yet to try that. You can go kayaking, canoeing, surfing, snowboarding, rock climbing, the possibilities go on and on. Biking is another great activity you can do, and most cities have bike sharing programs or shops where you can rent bikes for a couple hours. It’s an easy way to get around, get a workout in and see the city.
Enjoying these kinds of activities is a fun way to stay active and try something you may have never done before, which is one of the best parts about traveling.
What are some of your tips for staying active while traveling?