While the goal of any vacation should be to enjoy the experience as much as possible, you’ll likely feel better if you’re able to incorporate physical activity into your travel plans. “It can be nice to connect with your body after a long flight, or an energizing way to start your day,” says Alex WeissnerRRCA certified running coach and co-founder of Brunch Running. “Plus, you won’t be completely out of your routine or lost strength when you return to home life.”
Still, spending part of the day stuck in a small hotel gym when you might be out exploring might seem totally unappealing. Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to stay active while on vacation that can make your trip even more fun. For some ideas, we spoke to five fitness pros who shared some of their insider secrets.
1. Walk wherever you can
Walking is one of the easiest, yet the most efficient ways to be active and enjoy your travels to almost any destination, says Whitney Hoovercertified personal trainer and founder of WH Body Refinery.
“Exploring a new city on foot can really give you a sense of the city and maybe find a nice store or a destination around the corner that you would have missed by car,” she says. “And if I’m somewhere with nice views and nature, I’ll of course plan a day hike.” Organized walking tours are also a great way to get your feet wet while learning about local culture and sights.
Before a long day of travel in particular, you can stretch your legs and get the blood pumping by walking purposefully. “Walking mindfully in the morning to start the day is a great way to exercise and set an intention,” says Heather Carroll, certified personal trainer and owner of A Balanced Life Training. “Make sure your shoulders are over your ribs and your ribs are over your hips. Concentrate on your breathing and on the core which activates to exhale.
2. Try a new boutique fitness class
Even if your fitness budget is limited when you’re at home, when you’re on vacation, consider splurging on a special fitness class. Treating yourself to a new workout can be fun. “Check out the best yoga studio in town or try a workout you don’t have available in your hometown,” says Hoover.
3. Enroll in an active course
Daniel Richter, certified personal trainer and CEO of Force Logindicates that you can make exercise an enjoyable part of your travels by signing up for a workshop on a fun activity like beach volleyball, snorkeling, surfing or tennis.
“You’ll learn something new or learn more about something you’re already interested in and meet new people along the way,” he says. “Plan ahead and see what’s available where you’re going.” Discover local schools and workshops, as well as options on Tripadvisor and Airbnb Experiences.
4. Rent bikes
Jumping on a bike is a great way to get around and explore somewhere new. “Not only will it bring you closer to the new surroundings and people compared to sitting behind a car window, but your daily activity will skyrocket,” says Richter. “Just make sure you pack proper footwear.” If you prefer something more structured, research options for a bike tour.
5. Take a “training”
Instead of tailoring your exercise to your vacation, you can also build your vacation around physical activity! Richter likes to make exercise the centerpiece of his travels. “There is no limit to the ambition you can achieve here: the aspiring yogi can travel to India, the Thai fighter can visit a training camp in Thailand, and the bodybuilding enthusiast can visit gyms where the greatest bodybuilders have trained,” he shares.
6. Enter the water
Take advantage of the natural water if you happen to be somewhere with a lake or a beach: go swimming, or rent a paddle board or kayak. “You’ll get your heart rate up and your sanity will be boosted by time in nature,” says Hoover. Or, see if you can book a hotel with a pool where you can swim laps.
If you’re a runner, you can make your vacation your new running ground. “Starting your morning in a new place with a run or walk allows you to see a place during quiet hours, from a different perspective, and helps you become familiar with a city,” says Weissner. “When I book a hotel for travel, I always start by locating parks and trails.”
His recommendation? “Don’t plan your route, because then you will become obsessed with looking at the street names instead of admiring the new landscape in front of you. Choose your direction and go. (Just be sure to bring your phone with you so you can find your way back!) Weissner often starts with a simple out-and-back run on the first day, while she’s still getting her bearings. “But while I’m running, I make it a point to look for cafes that I’ll come across on the way back,” she says.
Today, most major cities also offer running circuits. Or, you can plan your trip around a destination race. “There are road and track races all over the world, and these events are the perfect way to start a vacation,” says Weissner.
8. Choose your hotel wisely
If you feel more comfortable working out at a gym, Richter suggests doing some research before booking your accommodation. “Hotel gyms come in all shapes and sizes, but with a little research, you should be able to spot the right ones,” he explains. Or, you can book a place near a gym that sells day passes. Just make sure the times will suit your travel schedule.
9. Pack a few small accessories or just go out with a workout in mind
Carroll says another way to exercise while traveling is to bring a few packable items. A flat resistance band, for example, will fold and weigh nothing, she says. A small pilates ball can also be deflated and easily stored in a suitcase.
“You can get a full body workout in a small space – or take it outside to a patio or the dirt!” Carol said.
Or, if you don’t have the extra room in your bag, just download a fitness app with live or on-demand streaming workouts. roxie jonesa NASM-certified personal trainer on the Alo Moves platform, says many of these workouts don’t require any equipment and you can choose from sessions as short as 5 minutes or as long as 60 minutes or more on most platforms.
Jones is also a huge fan of AMRAP workouts (as many reps as possible) using bodyweight exercises. “AMRAPs are a lot of work in a short amount of time, and the sweat feels good when I’m out of a routine,” she says. “These workouts can easily be done on your hotel balcony, by the pool, or my favorite, right on the beach – and being able to jump straight into the pool or the ocean after a sweaty, intense heart workout is worth it. really worth it!”
Track this HIIT cardio workout on the go:
10. Make Active Choices
Jones points out that simple tweaks can help you get active without feeling like you’re stuck exercising instead of enjoying your trip. “Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to the beach instead of taking the shuttle, swim laps instead of floating on the raft,” she advises. “Any movement is a good movement on vacation! Keeping your joints mobile can keep you feeling great.
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