Italy without pasta and gelato? Austin without barbecue? London without fish & chips? Hawaii without a Mai Tai? Unthinkable, right? When we go on vacation, we want to experience everything that makes that place worth visiting, especially the food. In our rush to see the sights or relax by the pool, we tend to veer from our regular exercise routine. That’s completely understandable, but all that food and drink combined with a lack of exercise can lead to feeling sluggish as well as a little extra padding when we come back.
Here are some ways to keep your heart pumping while still having fun:
- Hit the gym: Does the hotel have a fitness facility, or do you belong to a national gym chain with a nearby location? Even if you’re not doing your regular comprehensive workout, a half hour on the elliptical machine or doing laps in the pool is better than nothing.
- Walk it: Build in extra time to get to and from places, and walk wherever you can do so safely. Use your smartphone maps to show you the way, or sign up for a walking tour. The bonus is that walking is the best way to get to know a place and its neighborhoods that you might otherwise miss.
- Take advantage of your natural surroundings: Add swimming to your day if you’re near a lake or beach; run a city’s greenbelt or shoreline like the locals do; hike through the forest; snorkel; or take a mountain hike. If the heat of the day is too much, schedule time for early morning or nighttime workouts.
- Be your best teacher: Download an exercise app such as Aaptiv, Qinetic, Daily Ab Workout or the Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout, and turn your space into a fitness studio for five minutes or an hour or more, depending on the kind of time you have available.
- Gear up: Rent a bike, kayak, canoe, snowshoes—whatever works for wherever you are. You’ll get your cardio in and maybe fall in love with a new kind of exercise in the process.
- You’re with the band: Pack stretchy exercise bands in your suitcase. They don’t take up weight or space, and you can use them inside or out for resistance training or with any of the above activities. Also, consider bringing a jump rope and hand weights to upgrade your workout.
- Play: Does your area have golf or tennis? Scope out a nearby course or court to get in a lesson or an entire game. Or if you’re traveling with kids, hit a playground and make up a workout with the equipment available.
- Take a class: Check out a local gym or fitness studio schedule and see what classes look appealing and can fit into the day’s plan. Yoga, kickboxing, Zumba—the possibilities are endless, and it’s a great way to introduce your body to a new form of exercise.
- Sign up for activities: How does a city staircase tour, snorkeling with manta rays or horseback yoga sound? Sites such as Airbnb Experiences and Groupon are filled with great ideas for things to do on vacation that you might not get to experience anywhere else.
- Trade salsa for salsa dancing: Instead of making the main event a long, lounging meal, bring the family and friends together for group activities that involve moving. Square dancing? Zip-lining? Touch football? What possibilities does your destination offer for getting out and getting moving?
Finally, have a little compassion for yourself if you feel like you’re falling down on your routine. When you’re strolling through a new town and window shopping, lugging camping gear or chasing kids around in the sand, you’re actually still working out and burning calories, but it feels much more fun.