Summer often presents a difficult time of year to maintain a fitness regimen. Much of the difficulty appears to be in maintaining a routine. Between vacations, keeping the kids entertained on break, and other summertime events, fitness often gets pushed to the proverbial back burner. Inevitably, September arrives and we find ourselves a few pounds heavier looking to shed the weight before the holidays. Sound familiar?? Then please read on…
The good news is that physical activity doesn’t necessarily have to be elaborate during busy times nor does it have to be restricted to the home or gym. In 3 simple steps we can avoid the inevitable summer weight gain and seamlessly blend it into our summer activities.
1.) It’s All In The Planning
Often times we plan our activities based on where we are going to eat or what we are going to see. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with this logic, we must also consider one more factor which is how much are we going to move. Staying fit while traveling requires regular activity combined with a bit of creativity. Consider activity as part of your recreational planning. Look for ways that the entire family can get involved such as family day at a local park or an early evening after-dinner hike. If heat is a factor, consider utilizing the services offered in your city through your local parks and recreation departments such as public pools and organized group trips to various places of interest. Vacations at larger hotels and resorts will sometimes offer sightseeing activity packages. They usually refer to these as “adventure” tours. These excursions can present unique opportunities for activities that can compliment a current fitness routine as well as provide enjoyment for everyone in your party.
2.) Send Your Fitness Packing
Packing for your fitness-minded vacation can be a snap. A workout outfit and a sturdy pair of sneakers can provide the basics of your travel gear but don’t stop there. Other must have items to pack would include: a refillable water bottle, sunscreen, healthy snacks such as protein bars, fruit, beef jerky, and 100-calorie snack packs (for times when only gas station stops or vending machine food is available). Most hotels have a fitness center; some are more elaborate than others. It pays to call ahead to find out what they offer and if there are additional fees to utilize the facility. If your hotel doesn’t offer a fitness facility or you choose not to use it, you can get a great workout just by packing a few extra items such as a jump rope, exercise bands/tubing or simple suspension resistance equipment like the I.M. Rings from BodyByJake.
3.) Work With What You Have
You’re in your hotel room and you forgot to bring anything even remotely related to fitness and there’s no hotel gym in sight. What do you do? The answer is- work with what you have. Any fitness professional will tell you that the best fitness routine will contain 3 elements: 1.) Cardiovascular Activity, 2.) Strength Training and 3.) Flexibility. It’s possible to get all three of these critical components on vacation even without a gym or equipment.
Perhaps the easiest way to get in cardiovascular activity is through walking. This can be done in tandem with sightseeing through walking tours or as dedicated exercise. Walking the surrounding area of a hotel can offer the weary traveler a chance to stretch their legs, get some fresh air, and take in different scenery. If you don’t want to leave the comforts of your hotel but are looking for a great cardio workout, try the stairs. Moving as quickly as you can through flights of stairs can be intense, so it’s important to pace yourself. If you can’t step away from the free HBO in your room, try jogging in place or simple callisthenic-type exercises like jumping jacks. Both will elevate your heart rate and help you burn off those poolside mai tai’s.
The notion of strength training conjures up images of pumping iron in a gym. The truth is that strength training doesn’t necessarily have to involve dumbbells, barbells, or any sort of gym equipment. Simple things found in your hotel room can easily double as dumbbells such as filled water bottles or other equally weighted small items. Using your own body weight as resistance is often times the easiest way to achieve results in the absence of any equipment. Standard lower body exercises such as lunges and squats can prove very effective for this purpose. Basic upper body exercises such as push-ups either against a wall or the floor as well as dips using a chair or bed are also great ways to work the upper back as well as arms. Abdominal exercises are also super easy to accomplish with the help of a few curl ups as well as alternating leg scissors.
Flexibility is the third critical component in a good fitness program. It’s often overlooked many times because people don’t realize the benefit of flexibility. However, flexibility is important as it decreases the likelihood of injury and enhances the work that we do on the other two components. The easiest way to get this in is through stretching post work out when your muscles are completely warmed up. Stretches for all major muscle groups should be held for 10-15 seconds without any bouncing motions.
By incorporating these 3 exercise elements into your travel plans, a vacation can be a great place to either jumpstart a fitness routine or provide you with a unique opportunity to continue with the good habits you’ve already established. With a bit of creativity and pre-planning, you’ll be successful at avoiding summer weight gain and realize that a fitness routine doesn’t really need a vacation after all.
About the author:
Gina M. Crome, M.S., M.P.H., R.D., is a Registered Dietitian and ACE Certified Personal Trainer based in Southern California. She is the owner of Lifestyle Management Solutions, a company that provides customized nutrition and fitness programs designed to fit an individual’s lifestyle. Become a fan of Gina on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and visit her website Lifestyle Management Solutions.