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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Staying In Shape On the Road

When you're out and about flitting from tourist attraction to subway station to lunch, it's hard to keep on track with your diet and exercise regimen. Even though you're out walking all day, and it may seem like you're getting a lot of exercise in, you're also probably eating a lot of high-calorie and fatty foods that pretty much negate all the good you're doing with the walking, hiking and stair-climbing. I hate to exercise, but I like to walk. Too bad I forget that most of the year and only remember it when I'm back on vacation and slightly out of shape. Okay, mostly out of shape. I try to keep focused at home though and have been doing weights and fun things like boxing, sprints with the dog (because neither of us is going to run more than a block at a time) and jump rope. 
So, when I go on vacation and have long days, I feel like I've already done my body good and then go out and eat something followed by chocolate cake or sticky toffee pudding. If my pants still fit by the time the trip is over, I consider that a triumph, but I know I could do more. A lot more. Here are just some of the ways you can easily exercise on your trips that you can either do while getting ready or add into your routine throughout the day. Maybe get up 20 minutes early and hit up the hotel gym or swimming pool before you take your shower in the morning and get ready to leave for the day. The best part about most of these suggestions is that they are totally free and don't require you to pack anything extra in your bag that's probably already too full. (Take some stuff out!)

Easy exercises for your hotel room:
  • Push-ups - Get some variety going by using a chair for semi-traditional ones like the ones below (you don't need a yoga mat. You can just push the chair up against the wall or door) or for a harder workout, try it this way.

  • Chair crunches - I love the fact that if you have a chair, you pretty much have a low-impact gym. Sit on the edge and pull legs up or do the bicycle or other ab exercises like these
  • Work your triceps - These also use a chair, though you can use anything flat and sturdy. At home, I use my coffee table, but you can also use a park bench. 
  • Planks - Work your core!
  • Squats - Work your butt. You can do these outside, too, but people might give you funny looks.
  • Lunges - Work your legs. These look pretty weird in public, too.
  • Calf raises - Do these anywhere, like brushing your teeth, watching the news or waiting in line to get into the Louvre.
  • Yoga - if you have room to stretch out and are a regular yoga practitioner, then find a spot on the floor and have at it. 
  • Pilates - See above. If you can do any of your moves without equipment, this is the time to bust those out.
  • Jumping jacks are good if you are on the ground floor. If you aren't, maybe take these outside.
  • Arm curls - You can do these just about everywhere. Buy a couple of water bottles and use them as make-shift weights. If these aren't doing the trick and you don't have anything heavier around that could work, check out these traveling dumbbells called AquaBells that you fill with water for your workouts. 
  • Resist! Pack a resistance band (or set) in your carry-on and do more strenuous workouts in the time you have available. There are also these fancy loop bands you can use to strengthen your legs/thighs 

photo credit
Ways to use what the hotel or resort has on-hand to get a workout:
  • Hotel gym - If your lodging has a gym, it probably won't be very extensive, but there's bound to be a stair-stepper or elliptical in there for you to jump on. 
  • No gym? Use the stairs. Walk or run up the stairs to your room and you'll start to feel the burn. Generally, the stairwell is pretty private, so you also won't be disturbing others if you are up early or late doing this.
  • Go for a swim - If you're lucky and traveling in the warmer months, you can totally do laps outside. If not so lucky, your lodging might be used to it and have one of those fancy indoor pools.
  • Go for a run - Not close to a park or afraid to go out running in unfamiliar terrain? Strap on your running shoes and do laps around the hotel. Chances are they are surrounded by a parking lot and/or sidewalks that make it easy to get your strides in.

Daily Burn App
If you're like me and need some inspiration to get going and stay on track, then check out Red Tricycle's post for 10 apps for busy parents for healthy eating and quick exercising. I figure busy parents are pretty similar to travelers, except they probably get less sleep. I just downloaded and started using MyFitnessPal. We'll see how that goes.

You can also jump on your laptop and look for exercise vids on YouTube (like I did for you above). There are tons out there to choose from. If you have favorites, bookmark them for when you are traveling and don't have time to waste searching. Maybe one of those with a big guy yelling at you to power through, so you don't give up in 5 minutes and declare walking to breakfast good enough. If you want some tips on eating healthy on vacation, check out my post on vegetarian dining, which will show you how to incorporate veggies into your diet.

What are your tips for staying in shape while traveling? Do you have a favorite exercise to do that can be done anywhere?

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