You want to get away, not get to the gym. Traveling can interrupt a workout routine, but taking a short break doesn’t have to mean backsliding on your resolution to get fit this year. While you shouldn’t just sit at the beach all day, it’ll take more than a week off to undo your progress.
“If your vacation is seven days and you’re active on it, it’s really not going to be a big deal,” said Veronica Ethridge, a personal trainer at GoddessFit in Austin. “I always encourage people from a cardiovascular fitness point to go hiking or go running on the beach. Do something that gets your heart rate up that’s fun, that’s more play.”
Individual genetics, training time and fitness level affect the rate at which you lose strength and endurance, said Dixie Stanforth, a faculty member and Provost’s Teaching Fellow in kinesiology at the University of Texas. This means if you’re brand new to working out, you’ll notice a drop-off faster than someone who has been hitting the gym for years.
Plan at least one structured workout a week to help you stay mentally connected to your fitness goal, said Ethridge. If you’re someone who falls out of a routine easily, don’t go more than four days, she advised.
Here are five ways to enjoy your trip and keep your fitness evolution on track — with or without a gym.
Include activity in your day
While my husband and I enjoy good dinners and desserts, movement is always a part of our vacation. I often come back a pound or two less. A ski trip or a 10-mile hike guarantee an active day, but there are plenty of other ways to incorporate a little exercise.
“Walk as much as you possibly can,” said Cris Dobrosielski, a spokesman for the American Council on Exercise and owner of Monumental Results in San Diego.
Get on a bike, always take the stairs or walk the length of a shopping mall and back before you make purchases, he added.
Since your aerobic capacity will start to drop off somewhat after 12 days, go for a run when you’re exploring a new city, said Stacy Sims, an environmental exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist. Follow the jaunt with a few 30-second rounds of high-intensity exercises like burpees, jumping jacks and squats.
Book a hotel with a gym
Sites like Priceline and Kayak can help you find lodging with a fitness center, but some hotels consider a closet-size room with only a treadmill a gym. If you want a bigger space to exercise or you need free weights, check the hotel’s website for pictures or call to find out what options are available.
Get fit in your room
Browse the exercise library at the American Council on Exercise’s website (acefitness.org) or download a fitness app. Nike Training Club is free and has more than 100 workouts to choose from. It also offers four- to six-week options with no need for equipment if you’re going on a lengthy trip.
Pay attention to your nutrition
I always book a room with a mini-fridge and a microwave so I can have breakfast and snacks on my own. For weeklong getaways, a full kitchen is a must. Not only is restaurant dining expensive, I like to explore local grocery stores for my meals. Rooms with ovens and full refrigerators might cost more, but saving money by cooking my own food usually compensates for the price bump.
Take snacks when you’re sightseeing. You don’t want to end up with low blood sugar that has you searching for the nearest fast-food joint, so make sure to take healthy options like protein bars or fruit to keep you going. Make your own trail mix by blending nuts and dried fruit. Individual plastic bags work perfectly for day trips.
Add it all up
Try walking 10 minutes a few times a day if activity doesn’t happen naturally during your travels. It’s fine to split activity up into increments, said Ethridge. Aim for getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise through the week — the amount recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine — but don’t focus too much on fitness.
“Go on your vacation and have fun,” said Ethridge. “Be active. Indulge. That’s what vacations are for. You shouldn’t really have to worry about working out.”