How To Exercise While Traveling
The holidays can put a monkey wrench in your exercise routine. Traveling to visit family and friends is a big obstacle when your home gym and familiar equipment are not available. Missing one or two days is not a deal breaker and can be treated as rest days if you amp-up your workouts before you leave and when you return. However, the body starts to decondition after about a week off of exercising.
Deconditioning is the act of losing your fitness abilities when you stop working out, including loss of strength and aerobic fitness ability. With this, our bodies lose their ability to hit aerobic and fitness levels that can keep weight off and our hearts strong. The speed that deconditioning occurs is a direct correlation to our fitness levels. For instance, athletes take a longer time to decondition that an average person. One study looked at well-conditioned athletes who had been training regularly for a year. They then stopped exercise entirely. After three months, researchers found that the athletes lost about half of their aerobic conditioning.
A similar study performed on new exercisers found that they lost all their eight-week workout gain after two months of being sedentary. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, even two weeks of detraining can lead to a significant decline in cardio fitness – and not exercising for two to eight months leads to loss of virtually all fitness gains.
It doesn’t appear that you hurt your progress significantly by missing one week of normal activity, but the hiatus can affect your motivation to return to a lifestyle that includes exercise. So it’s important to maintain some level of exercise while on vacation to psychologically and emotionally maintain your commitment.
I’ve perused a number of sites for travel workout tips and identified the best suggestions for keeping your exercise program in tact while on vacation or on a business trip.
Use Hotel Facilities
If you’re staying at a hotel, the path of least resistance is to investigate and use its fitness center and/or pool to get a half hour cardio boost in. If you have extra time, use weights or your own body for some resistance exercises.
While in the hotel, walk the stairs to your room at least once a day. If you’re on a high floor, walk three to five floors than take the elevator (or more floors depending on your fitness level).
Use Your Own Facilities
If your hotel or location does not offer suitable gym facilities and you have your computer handy, you can download exercise programs with body-weight resistance or cardio moves including pushups, squats, lunges, jumping jacks and jumping rope. Your workout-friendly packing list can include the following lightweight, easily portable items:
– Tubing or resistance bands (light, intermediate and heavy)
– Stability ball (deflated)
– Jump rope
Alternatively, make up your own routine, combining stair climbing with lunges and/or burpees and pushups. If you’re limited on time, the two workouts below can get you energized in 10 to 15 minutes.
– Plank Circuit Workout
- Plank Jacks: Plank jacks will warm you up quickly. Start in an upper plank or push up position. While holding the plank and maintain a tight core, jump your legs apart and quickly back together. Do up to 25 repetitions.
- Running Planks: From upper plank position, alternating your knees towards your chest as if you were marching. Once you have a good marching pace, bring it up to a running pace. Wow! You will feel this one right away. Do up to 25 repetitions.
- Planks with pushup: From upper plank position, perform a plank jack and immediately follow it with a push up. This one will challenge you! Do up to 15 repetitions.
– Full Body Circuit Workout
- Engage in this routine at high intensity to get the best results. Perform 100 jumping jacks (or four sets of 25 if you need to), 30-60 seconds of pushups, 30-60 seconds holding a plank, 30-60 seconds of lunges per leg, and 30-60 seconds of burpees. Then repeat two or three times.
For yoga and Pilates exercises, use a downloaded program or DVD that also helps to relieve stress and tension from traveling.
Pick an alternative hotel. My favorite exercise option is to book my hotel up to a mile from my intended destination and then walk to and from the location every day. It’s a great way to sightsee and get familiar with the city or town.
Find a jogging path, park, or popular street. Just by packing your running shoes you can combine sightseeing with working out. Jog through the parks, along picturesque waterways, or up and down past shops and restaurants to get your workout done, while exploring the city or even picking out where to go for dinner.
Go on a hike in the airport
Flight delayed? Take a brisk walk to different terminals at the airport and check out other restaurants and shops.
Find local classes
Sign up for an exercise class. Traveling can offer plenty of opportunities to try a local Zumba, belly dancing, boot camp, yoga, or other specialty class at a workout studio. You’ll be supporting local businesses and making working out easy by scheduling it in to your travel itinerary.
Call the local YMCA or community gymnasium. In many cities, public workout facilities allow visitor passes by the day or week for a very reasonable fee, giving you access to pools, tracks, basketball or tennis courts, and even instructor-led classes.
Plenty of choices for exercising on the road leaves little room for excuses for not getting a workout in while you’re away. Have a great a trip!