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How to Stay in Shape on Vacation

Here's how to incorporate wellness into every summer getaway.
 

Summer is here and it seems everyone wants to kick their fitness efforts into high gear. And while we’re all for any excuse that encourages healthy habits, we know it’s also important to find a balance between work and play. And that’s where summer vacation comes in.

Whether you’re planning a beach vacay, mountain getaway or even a staycation in your own backyard, it’s normal to feel stressed about deviating from your diet and exercise routine. But doing so can actually be one of the healthiest things you can do. One study found that because vacations reduce stress, they’re beneficial for blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Even knowing you have a vacation coming up can make you feel more relaxed.

So now’s the time to start planning that summer holiday. And to help keep you on track with healthy habits (even when you’re on the road), we turned to the experts for their best tips.

Q. If you want to keep up with your fitness goals during vacation, where’s the best place to start?

“Keep it simple,” says personal trainer and author Maik Wiedenbach. “Staying in shape means not losing muscle, so it’s great if you can get in a few workouts a week. As for food, try to eat protein first at every meal so you don't overeat. Protein is an excellent hunger retardant—think about how many chicken breasts you can eat versus donuts. That being said, life is short so live a little and enjoy the food. Just be mindful of portion control and following basic principles.”

Q: What are the biggest challenges to keeping up a fitness routine while on the road?

“Controlling your schedule and environment,” says personal trainer and founder of Catalyst Fitness Bill Sonnemaker. “Oftentimes, the best laid plans have a monkey wrench thrown into them. One of the best solutions is to exercise immediately upon rising before the day has an opportunity to get away from you. When on vacation, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to necessarily make progress, but rather keep from regressing. Even 20-30 minutes of exercise each day can help keep you where you’re at and prevent backsliding.”

Q: Is it okay to completely slack off on diet and exercise while you’re on vacation?

“It’s probably not a great idea, especially if the vacation is more than two or three days,” says personal trainer and owner of Sin City Training Matt Hanson. “All you have to do is plan ahead. Will there be a gym or activities where you’re staying? Think about swimming, biking and walking around, exploring nature or the city.”

Q: If we only have a few minutes for exercise each day, what can we do to get the most bang for our buck?

“Ideally train with weights or some type of resistance,” says Wiedenbach. “Weight training will keep up strength and muscle mass, which prevents your metabolism from dropping. But a weeklong break from the gym isn’t going to cause any major setbacks, as long as you keep your diet in check. Instead of forcing a workout where there might not be one, try new sports like hiking, climbing or diving. A hike is a great workout, especially if you’re a city dweller since it challenges your leg muscles in a whole new way.”

Q: If we’re doing a staycation in our hometown, what are some unique ideas that incorporate a fitness element?

“Find a tour,” says Hanson. “I've done all kinds of tours while on vacation, from walking to evening bike ride tours, segway tours and even horseback riding. Ask neighbors and friends for ideas or research online about what your city has to offer.”

Q: Is it possible to develop new healthy routines on the road? 

“Absolutely,” says Hanson. “Being in a different environment is actually a great way to start a new routine or quit an unhealthy one. For example, it's a great time to quit smoking because you’re out of your daily routine. It’s also a great time to try something new.”

Q: Any packing tips?

“Resistance bands are great because they allow you to carry 200+ lbs of resistance and you can train every single muscle in the body,” says Wiedenbach. “Depending on where you travel, protein powder might be a good option, too, especially if you’re traveling in a country or region where it’s tough to find lean protein sources.”

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