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Today's Special: How to Stay Healthy On Vacation
Have you ever see someone who goes on vacation and ends up using it all as a cheat week on their diet and exercise plans? The results of letting go too much while away can make the first work out back feel like the ultimate Monday morning punch to the stomach if not worse.
It's easy to fall out of a fitness regiment held at home while traveling to Europe or on a cruise in the Bahamas. The gym or training center is not where it usually is and the food selection is different from what the menu looks like in your kitchen. How can one keep their hard work maintained while still enjoying some time away from work and normal responsibilities?
Before that question makes you reconsider that trip to France for fear of overloading on carbs at a Parisian bakery, here are a few simple tips to staying healthy on vacation while still enjoying the trip:
Right from the get go, fitness regiments can be put to the test by the journey to your vacation spot. Food and exercise options can be extremely limited and worse, you may be stuck next to someone who forgot to use deodorant or a crying baby the whole ride there.
Trips that require air travel can be tough on the body. The lack of leg room in airplanes can cause cramps and aches galore, especially on longer trips. To keep circulation flowing, stand up from your seat when possible and do some calf raises to loosen up the legs. While seated, you can tap your feet and rotate your ankles to keep them from falling asleep.
Although airlines are now offering healthier menu options, in flight meals can be high in sodium and lack good nutrients. Snacks such as pretzels and chips may not do too much damage as a one time only snack, but if possible, pack some fresh fruit or trail mix in your carry on to keep sodium levels down. Drinking plenty of water during the flight is also critical as the altitude of the aircraft can cause dehydration, which can lead to headaches and muscle soreness.
Cruise ships can also be a test to self discipline as no other place is as notorious for buffets full of processed foods. The good news is that unlike airplanes, cruise ships offer ample room to move and many now include features such as pools, exercise rooms, and tracks to run on as part of their many amenities.
Those driving themselves have a huge upper hand, but also, a slightly bigger responsibility than those taking airplanes or cruise ships. The open road is littered with fast food joints, all you can eat buffets, and rest areas offering a wide selection of salty and sugary snacks. However, traveling by car gives you the option to choose your next meal more freely and gives more opportunities to pull over and stretch for a bit.
The best choice when traveling by car is to look for places that offer healthy choices, such as diners. If you have the ability to visit a grocery store or a value club such as BJ's or Costco before or during the trip, pick up plenty of fruit, water, and maybe a cooler to pack lean lunch meats and veggies in for sandwiches. Much like with air travel, stretching while in motion can prevent aches and pains from setting in. Doing some calisthenic work at a rest area can also keep the body loose and active for a few moments on the way.
You made it! After hours on the road or in the sky, you have checked into your place of lodging and are able to sprawl out on the bed for a while. But the health responsibilities do not stop with a baggage claim or paying that last toll before the exit, and choices made at the destination itself can make an impact later.
If you happen to be staying at a hotel or resort that offers a fitness center or pool, you already have an advantage since these are two perfect places to hit to keep active. Pools may be the better option since having some fun in the sun and getting a few laps can be a big part of any vacation. If these options are not available at the hotel, some simple body exercises such as push ups, crunches, and leg lifts in the morning and before bed can substitute.
Remember to keep an eye open for balanced meals either at the resort, or at places in the vicinity. A Bahama Mama or two won't ding you too bad, so long as they aren't consumed after a long day of fat and sodium packed meals and little to no exercise.
No matter the destination, the best place to make up for slip ups in vacation diets is with a healthy assortment of activities. Travel guides can list a few good places to get some exercise, but there are a number of ways to stay healthy without thinking too hard about it.
Theme parks have miles of ground to walk around in. You don't necessarily have to power walk through Disney World, or do dead lifts with Donald Duck, but trying to keep moving as long as possible throughout the day can burn calories the same as it would at home. If the hotel pool loses its appeal, try a water park if your destination has one to change up your aquatic exercises.
If your trip takes you into a city such as London, Paris, or New York City, walking can be the best, and sometimes, only option to get around. The subways, buses, and cabs can be of use if you want to go across town, but walking through these locations can give you the opportunity to see the city up close and at the same time keep those legs moving and calories burning.
Some places even offer bikes for rent or group hiking activities which are great to get some real work done without bringing your back to that dimly lit gym back home. These and other high intensity activities such as rock climbing and cave spelunking may even help you lose weight and come back from your trip refreshed and in better shape!