Business travelers who are dedicated to their fitness programs may have hacked the inevitable disruptions of time zones, business meals, airport food and squeezing in time for hotel workouts. But many of us who travel more for leisure than for sales meetings easily get derailed during high travel seasons like summer vacations and the holiday season. When we take off for a few weeks to enjoy croissants and chardonnay in Paris, pasta and gelato in Italy or egg nog with grandma’s pot roast and aunt Ruth’s surprisingly moist fruit cake (courtesy of the Great British Baking Show), we tend to return home with a little more padding around belly.
Before you take off on your next long trip, remind yourself that it really isn’t terribly hard to stay fit while you travel. If you don’t want to come home from your travels feeling guilty and unable to comfortably zip up your favorite jeans, a little bit of planning will go a long way.
Here’s 5 of my top tips for staying fit while you travel for vacation, business or the family visit I refer to as an “oblication.”
1. Don’t just sleep off your jet-lag.
Crossing a few time zones throws off our internal time clocks (aka circadian rhythms). New research is emerging that suggests moderate exercise can help reduce the duration and symptoms of jet-lag. Exercising early around 7 AM or late afternoon between 1 – 4 PM can shift the circadian rhythm earlier. And, exercising in the evening around 7 – 10 PM can shift the the circadian rhythm to a later time. It’s also a good idea to exercise outside so light can also do its job to sync up the body’s time clock so you sleep better. Yes, it may require you to muster up the discipline to get started. Just remind yourself that once you start, you’ll be glad you did and more importantly, you may adjust better to the time change meaning you can enjoy your vacation even more.
2. Pack a jumprope and resistance bands.
This makes it easy to grab a quick workout in your room or hotel gym. If you don’t mind people watching you, take your jumprope to the nearest park, weather permitting. What I love about jump rope workouts is what they do for bone density in the lower legs and you only need about 10 minutes. Depending on your skill level, try doing 1-minute intervals. I like to mix my jump rope workouts with a circuit of other exercises.
Here’s a basic routine as an example:
10 push ups,
20 walking lunges,
1-minute plank hold.
Repeat for 5 rounds or as many rounds as you have time for.
Resistance bands are another fool-proof way to make sure you get a little strength training in. There are plenty of travel kits available, like this one from ProSourceFit. (I have a partnership with ProSource which allows me to share discounts on products with my readers). Use my discount code at checkout for 15% off your order: brown15.
Not sure what exercises to do other that the usual biceps curls? Here’s a short video demonstrating some of my favorite, not-so-common exercises you can do with resistance tubes.
3. Check Google Maps and find some green.
No one wants to spend too much time in a hotel gym when they’re on vacay unless raining or snowing. So find out where the closest parks are if weather permits and, use the grass and park benches. You can do all kinds of body weight exercises like squats, walking lunges, triceps dips and step ups on a park bench. Push ups can be done with a bench too if you can’t do full body weight. And yoga can be done almost anywhere – indoors or out.
Here’s a 5 minute body weight workout you can do in a park or in your hotel room.
4. Pack your best walking sneakers.
If you don’t trust yourself to have good enough form to do these exercises without a mirror or following a trainer, walk… walk… walk. Always pack your best walking or walk/run shoes. You can also bike… bike… bike. Skip the Ubers and tour busses and use bike sharing apps instead. Many hotels in beach towns or resort destinations also offer bike rentals. I always take take advantage of this amenity.
5. Have a plan for bad weather.
Finally, if you’re traveling in nasty weather, the hotel or local gym might be your only option. Plan ahead and download a workout app or bookmark some YouTube videos of workouts you can do at the hotel or local gym. If you’re a fitness class junkie, research the neighborhood and see if there’s a studio nearby where you can pay per class. Also, if the gym is a boutique, ask the concierge if they have a deal with a nearby gym. Often times, they will offer free passes to the closest gym or a discount to a nearby studio.
Even if you can’t get in a full workout most of the days you’re away, always remind yourself a good 10 minute sesh of heart pumping exercise is better than nothing, especially when you can’t say no to an extra chunk of baguette with butter in Paris.
And, don’t forget to pack your vitamins to keep your immune system strong.