This article was written by Vera Tweed and originally published in Amazing Wellness magazine.
Do you ever feel like you need a vacation after coming home from one? Too much eating, drinking, and sitting around, combined with long hours in a plane, car, or train—it’s no wonder you feel sluggish and can’t squeeze into your skinny jeans.
But there’s hope! Instead of wreaking havoc on a fitness routine, travel can be an opportunity to make physical activity more interesting and fun, leaving you mentally and physically refreshed. Here are a few ways to make your next trip an active one.
Beat Deadly Sitting
Sitting for long periods isn’t just uncomfortable; it increases risk for blood clots in your legs and lungs, risk of chest pain or heart attack, and even risk of death. But a simple fix can produce surprising results.
A study out of Western State Colorado University found that regularly standing up for five minutes, once every hour, or 10 minutes every two hours, dramatically improved health. Good cholesterol rose by 21 percent, triglycerides dropped by 24 percent, and blood sugar dropped by 6 percent. The key is consistent, short breaks to stand, walk around, or do virtually anything out of your seat. More intense exercise, less often, doesn’t produce the same results.
If you’re sitting on a plane or in a car, these simple exercises help get blood flowing and keep muscles more toned.
For core muscles: Sit up straight and while breathing out, pull your belly button toward the spine. Hold for about 20 seconds, while breathing normally, and then relax. Repeat two or three times.
For legs and glutes: With a straight but relaxed back, march while sitting, picking up one knee and then the other, as high as you can. Alternate knees
for 20 to 30 reps.
For arms: Keeping elbows close to your sides, do 20 slow biceps curls, imagining resistance. Or, hold a laptop or bag for resistance.
Plan for Action
Although many tourist attractions deluge visitors with food and drink and demand little, if any, physical exertion, there are plenty of fun ways to put your body to work. Hiking in nature, walking or biking to explore a city, running on a beach, sailing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, snorkeling, horseback riding, or playing a sport (stay out of the golf cart) can be an invigorating experience.
Take Advantage of Hotel Facilities
This may be a no-brainer, but given that the classic poolside activity is sitting around, drink in hand, hotel gyms are rarely crowded. It’s perfectly fine to stand out from the crowd and swim a few laps or explore the gym. You might discover novel equipment, or a class or trainer that brings a fresh perspective to your usual routine.
Not everyone wants to be active on vacation, and others may have physical limitations that prevent them from doing so.
If you’re the lone fitness fan in your circle, plan for time alone to walk, run, or do an exercise routine each day. Pack resistance bands, a jump rope, or other light equipment, such as collapsible weights you can fill with water to help you make it happen.
You may even inspire your sedentary companions to get more active by suggesting easy hiking or walking trails or historical sites with some stairs to climb for a fun group experience.