Keep Your Fitness Routine On Vacation

By Jackie Confalone (read her bio below)

You’ve planned it for several months, maybe even a year. You get as many tasks as possible completed at work, so you aren’t overwhelmed when you return. As the date comes closer, your anticipation builds, and you can’t wait to go on vacation! You begin packing, either checking items off your travel list or doing it on the fly. But there’s one thing you should take on vacation no matter where you travel (if you work out on a regular basis) … your exercise/fitness routine.

You may be thinking, What? I just want to relax on vacation and not have any schedule. Why do I need to work out?

Traveling, especially long distances, can be really taxing on your body. One of the best things you can do is stretch and go on a walk when you get to your destination. After sitting in a car, airplane or train, you should move. Even if you just walk around your resort, around the block, on the beach, or a mountain trail, you will feel refreshed to start your vacation.

Did you know that exercise can help with your gut when you travel? I love to eat local food, do food tours and try new things, but my gut doesn’t always appreciate those new foods. I sometimes have a hard time adjusting to the food and my digestive system gets upset. Staying active seems to improve that!
If you decide not to exercise while on vacation, you may wonder what happens to your body or the fitness you’ve gained. Here’s some general guidelines on how fast you lose endurance and/or muscle:

– Aerobic power can decline 5-10% in three weeks.
– All our fitness gains from regular workouts could be gone after about two months of inactivity.
– We tend to lose aerobic ability faster than muscular strength. Muscles are resilient and retain memory of exercises we’ve done.

Have I convinced you to incorporate some exercise into any vacation that you take?

Maintaining Cardio
If you want to maintain your cardio endurance while still having fun on vacation, here are a few ideas that will give you a workout without feeling like exercise:

– Walk on the beach. Did you know that walking in soft sand is a tough workout and burns more calories than walking on flat ground? Some say you can burn twice as many calories walking in soft sand.
– Swim, surf, or snorkel. Again, if you’re at the beach, any swimming you do as you ride the waves and walk against the current will be a great workout. Consider taking a surfing lesson as surfing will challenge every muscle in your body. Even if you just paddle out to the waves and fall off many times, you’ll still get a great workout. Although snorkeling doesn’t seem challenging from a cardio standpoint, you can add intensity by swimming harder.
– Consider bike rides. Almost any place you vacation will have bikes available. Riding bikes in a city is a great way to get your bearings, check out restaurants, and cover more things you want to see. Or perhaps you vacation at a lake or in the mountains. Long bike rides are a great way to see the area and enjoy nature while getting low-intensity exercise.
– Seek out food or historic tours. When my husband and I visit a city, the first thing we do as part of our planning is see if there’s a food tour. We love this because we get to try foods at about a half-dozen restaurants, get discounts if we eat at those restaurants later, and walk through much of the city. Historic tours are similar as you learn fascinating facts while you walk through a city.
– Hike various trails. Check with your hotel or resort to see about hiking trails nearby of various abilities. Or use the All Trails app to discover trails and walking paths anywhere of various lengths and intensities.
– Book 18 holes of golf or a tennis court. Golf can give you a cardio workout if you walk the course, instead of getting a cart, and possibly carry your own clubs. You’ll burn 200-300 calories/hour. Like golf, playing tennis can be easy or hard depending on how fast and hard you play. You can burn up to 400 calories.
– Walk or run your own route. If you are a regular runner, you will want to do some running on vacation. Get up in the morning and do your run or walk before breakfast and any activities you plan for the day. If you’re not a morning person (like me), you may want to do this at dusk or at night.

Maintaining Strength
Are you concerned about maintaining your strength and muscle while you’re out of town? A quick workout with body weight exercises, resistance bands or full water bottles will keep you strong and fit until you get back home to your usual routine. Here’s a circuit you can try in your hotel room if you don’t have a hotel gym or just want to work out in your room:

– Bodyweight squats – 10 to 20 repetitions, depending on your fitness level
– Push ups (either inclined against a desk/bed or regular to the floor) – 10 reps
– Dumbbell Rows (using your luggage, backpack or water bottles as weight) – 10 reps each arm
– Plank – hold for 15 seconds
– Jumping Jacks (double or single leg) – 30 reps
– Tricep Dips (using a chair, bed, ottoman) – 10 reps

Go through this circuit two to three times. If you want to set a specific time for your workout, set a timer for the desired time (15 or 20 minutes) and do as many of the circuits as you can.

Try something new
Depending on where you vacation, your environment may offer opportunities to try exercises that you’ve never done before. If you’re near water, try paddleboarding, kayaking, or water skiing. You usually get a brief lesson when you’re renting the equipment. If you’re in the mountains or woods, try mountain biking, rappelling, regular or cross-country skiing, or join a group for a hike that’s more challenging than you normally do.

Many places have fitness or yoga studios and offer a week’s pass for a fee. Bring a friend and try a workout you’ve never done before: yoga, aerial yoga, CrossFit, HIIT or circuit classes. If you don’t have a climbing gym or cycle studio in your town, visit one during your trip. Or hey, goat yoga anyone?

And if you don’t workout because you truly want to relax and take a break from your routine at home, do that. It’s more than okay to rest. Relaxing may be just what you need to refresh yourself. Maybe going to a spa for a great massage or other service is just what you need.

Many people vacation for a week or two at a time. Taking a week off won’t make much of a difference in your fitness but, any more than that, and it may be harder to get back to your previous levels. Finding unique and new ways to stay active on vacation will not only keep you fit but will make the transition back to “real life” a little easier.


[i.] How to Workout on Your Vacation (

[ii.] How to Workout on Your Vacation (

[iii.] Stay in Shape While Traveling (5 Workouts) | Nerd Fitness

About Jackie Confalone:
Although retired from full-time work, Jackie is a freelance writer and has been a group fitness instructor for more than 35 years, the last 13 at Body Zone. She particularly loves working with seniors and people with chronic illnesses. She is nationally certified as a personal trainer and instructor for group fitness, Les Mills BODYFLOW, Pilates and SilverSneakers.

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