We look forward to vacations for rest and a reprieve from our regular routines.
Sometimes a break, though, can make it even more difficult to pick up our daily habits again.
For many, resuming an exercise regimen can be particularly hard.
The good news is that exercise can be a natural part of a vacation, especially if you don’t think about it as exercise.
“Whether you like active vacations or more relaxing ones, there are always ways to incorporate movement into your vacation,” says Annelise DiGiacomo, an American College of Sports Medicine Health and Fitness Specialist. “But you shouldn’t feel like you have to follow a strict exercise regimen. It is vacation after all.”
“People shouldn’t be focused on how many steps they need to take or how many hours of exercise each day,” Annelise says. “That’s just adding unnecessary stress to vacation.”
Rather, Annelise suggests finding activities that keep you moving, while having fun at the same time. “You can be active, have fun, and burn calories, not to mention relieve some stress from your everyday routine,” she says.
Walking on the beach is a great example of a low-key, yet good, aerobic activity for vacation.
“Walking on sand is actually a good workout because it’s more difficult than walking on flat ground,” Annelise says. “Plus who doesn’t enjoy a stroll right beside the ocean? It’s therapeutic at the same time.”
Playing volleyball, frisbee, or other outdoor group games can be a good way to add movement — and fun — to the vacation agenda.
Other ideas include swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and bike riding.
If you are sightseeing and visiting museums, monuments and other landmarks, then chances are you have the opportunity for quite a bit of aerobic activity.
And you can give your heart (and legs) even more of a workout by choosing to walk or cycle rather than take a tour bus or drive a car.
Taking the stairs instead of escalators and elevators is also an easy way to naturally add exercise into your day.
If you’re the type of person who prefers to do activities that more closely resemble your exercise routine at home, Annelise recommends planning ahead and doing your research.
Many area gyms offer daily or weekend passes for visitors and tourists to purchase. With a pass like this, you can have full access to a workout facility during your vacation.
Some hotels are also outfitted with fitness facilities, lap pools and walking paths.
It’s also important, Annelise says, to pack some exercise basics, including a good pair of walking or running shoes and comfortable clothing.
If space in your suitcase allows, you could also pack some lightweight exercise aids, such as jumping rope, resistance bands, or an exercise DVD.
And don’t forget your headphones and music.
Rather than find ways to incorporate exercise into a vacation, some people go all in and plan a fitness vacation.
“This is when an entire vacation is centered around activities that keep you moving.” Annelise says. “It may be a mountain climbing trip, a cycling excursion, or even a family vacation to a ranch.”
She says these are great things to do as a family or in large groups because people tend to be more motivated to engage in activities as a group.
While Annelise believes exercise and movement can be a natural and fun part of a vacation, she is not a fan if it sidetracks you from enjoying a break, which is, after all, the purpose of a vacation.
“I tell my clients that it’s okay if they skip a few days while on vacation. A little bit of time off can even be good,” she explains. “Whatever you choose, set expectations before you go so you have a plan for while you’re away — and for when you return.”
Visit our Healthiest Best Exercise homepage for more great ideas to work activity into your daily routine.