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How to maintain fitness on vacation

POSTED June 5, 2018 3:39 a.m.
For me, the best part about summer is packing my bags and heading out of town — the more exotic the location, the better. And while I’ve mastered the art of packing light and speeding through security checks (thank you Global Entry), finding a way to stay fit away from home has been a bit more challenging.

First, let’s all agree that vacations should be relaxing. It’s a time to rest and recharge. A time to sleep a little later and do a little less. And the best part of visiting new places is trying new foods. This is no time for strict regimens. I mean, if you’re not going to have cheese and chocolate in Paris, what are you doing there?

All joking aside, there are ways to stay in shape and still enjoy time away.

  1. Walk everywhere. Not only is walking great exercise, it’s the best way to see a city. You can go places cars and buses can’t. You can discover hidden gems in large cities just by wandering the streets. Take in the sights and smells. In some larger cities, it’s probably more efficient to walk than to drive anyway. If you find yourself at an airport for hours on end, don’t just settle in and stare at your devices. Grab your bags and go for a walk through the concourse. Find some stairs. Some airports even have gyms and showers for those longer layovers.


2. Let the world be your playground. Find a city park. Do a little pre-trip research. Most big cities have large parks where the locals go to run, ride bikes, paddle board, swim and walk. Some parks may also have strength circuits. Even in smaller cities you can find trails and bike paths. Last summer I found a dirt path in Denmark that took me past horse pastures and open meadows. It was an unexpected highlight of my visit.

3. Use the hotel gym. They aren’t what they used to be. More hotels are offering exercise services ranging from on demand yoga classes to morning group runs. Some will even rent out clothes and provide equipment for your room. Our hotel in Copenhagen had a running concierge with pocket-sized maps to local running routes and an express breakfast upon your return.

4. Indulge with purpose. If your destination is known for its crepes, eat the crepes. If Coq-au-vin is the delicacy, experience it. Who goes to Belgium and doesn’t eat chocolate? There’s so much to explore in a new place, and food is a great way to experience a culture. If there’s a food you’re dying to have, work it into your day and have it.

5. Keep it simple. You don’t need fancy equipment or routines to get a good workout. Push-ups. Crunches. Tricep dips. Planks. You can even use your luggage in place of weights for upright rows and bicep curls. Strap on your backpack and do a few lunges. There are a variety of body-weight exercises that you can perform with little time and even less gear. And if you can find a few stairs, the possibilities are endless.

6. Do your workout first thing. The best parts of vacations are unplanned. If you want to work out, do it in the morning so you can let the day take you where it wants.

7. Give yourself some grace. This is a vacation. You should enjoy it. You may not be able to do your normal strength or cardio routine, but that’s OK. You won’t lose all your fitness gains in a week or two. Be flexible. Remember, recovery is as important to your overall fitness as your workouts.

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