If you always pack your running shoes when you go on vacation only to find them unused and taking up precious carry-on space, you’re not alone.
Going on holiday is all about rest, relaxation and having fun, so keeping up your regular fitness routine can feel like just another add-on to pack into an already overflowing schedule.
But it’s easy to stay active. Simple exercises – like push-ups, crunches, jumping jacks, lunges, squats and mountain climbers in pyramid form (one set of 10, then one set of nine, all the way down to one) can go a long way to help you stay in shape while on vacation. What other easy mini-workouts can people do to earn those margaritas?
Here’s what three fitness instructors recommend:
When travelling, the first thing is to make sure you get proper rest, says Pat Payne, who is a busy mother with a full-time job and a longtime group fitness instructor at the Grey Family Eau Claire YMCA in Calgary. “The other thing is to fight that urge to flop on the bed and watch TV in your hotel room.”
When you’re over your jet lag, getting in some exercise can be as easy as going for a walk, Pat says. Or if you don’t feel like going out, do something fun with your kids, like exploring your hotel. “Make a game of it. Find the north, south, east and west parts of the building. Find out how many restaurants there are, or find every stairwell. Give yourselves a challenge.”
If you only have a few minutes, doing a few burpees – a combination of pushups, mountain climbers and jumping jacks – is an excellent way to go, Pat suggests.
Wall sits are another option. You get into a sitting position against the wall and hold that position static so that it loads the quadriceps. “It’s great for people who ski and hike.” If you are already fit and want to increase the intensity, lift one leg while doing wall sits, and then switch legs.
Pat also suggests taking advantage of the stairs in your hotel. Lace up your running shoes and do a few sets of stairs for five to 10 minutes. “It just feels good to get your heart rate up,” she says. “Be aware that you may have to exit outside and walk back into the lobby. And make sure you can get back onto your floor.”
Vincent Murakami, a martial arts instructor in Calgary, agrees that it’s easy to simplify your workout when on vacation.
“It doesn’t matter if you don’t have access to a gym,” he says. Walking, stretching, and using your body weight to exercise, like push-ups and squats, and simple things like walking up stairs and stretching – means that you won’t fall behind too much, even when you’re away from your regular fitness routine.
According to Vincent, it’s really more of a mental thing – “turning it into a habit, no matter whether you’re an athlete or a couch potato.” Once you’ve made exercise into a habit, then you’ll do whatever it takes to get exercise into your day.
“You don’t have to find special machines or have all these weights,” Vincent says. “You don’t need any equipment. Use your body weight.”
Rob Yoon, a Doctor of Chiropractic at Century Chiropractic Wellness Centre and a martial arts instructor Ki C. Yoon Martial Arts Academy in Calgary, also recommends using body weight to exercise.
“These are really simple things,” says Rob, a six Dan black belt hap ki do master who has taught Hapkido for 25 years.
Rob suggests a combination of cardio-based high-intensity interval training) (HIIT) and working out on a daily basis. “You can do this in your hotel room or on the beach – you can do it pretty much anywhere,” he says.
Along with regular exercise, good breathing is also essential, according to Rob. Breathe in while contracting, and exhale while relaxing. Watching your breathing patterns allows you to “enjoy what you’re doing, and reap the full benefits of that exercise by reviving your body and keeping your stamina up,” Rob explains.
Finally, remember that body and mind are closely linked. “Your body is as strong as what your mind allows you to do,” says Rob, who recommends meditating regularly (this has nothing to do with spiritual or religious beliefs, he adds). Meditation is simply a way to calm and clear the mind, and it doesn’t have to take much time, he explains.
For an easy one-minute meditation, Rob recommends closing your eyes and then imagining a solid colour that takes up your entire visual field. Maintain that colour in front of you for up to a minute, while clearing away any other images that may enter your mind. “This is something that everybody can do,” says Rob, who meditates daily, and always makes it a point to meditate before doing any training. Even if it’s just for a minute, it can make a difference in how you feel. When the mind is calm and clear, it’s easier to feel refreshed, rewarded and invigorated after doing any exercise, he explains.