A traveller’s guide to fitness

Travelling is no excuse for ditching your workouts

woman runningJust because you are on vacation doesn't mean you must abandon the 'I must get fitter-trimmer-slimmer' resolutions that you made just a few months ago. Here are some ways to stay on the path...

Take a walk

Walk as much as you can. Explore the city on foot. You will not only get a chance to actually know the place better, but also burn off all those extra calories.

But don't walk with high heels or just any footwear; pack a good pair of comfortable well-worn walking shoes. You can even carry the regular sports shoes that you wear at the gym or even slip-ons that have thick soles.

Wear them whenever you step out, even if it is just for sightseeing or shopping—right footwear makes all the difference. Wrong footwear not only adds to your misery, but also discourages you from walking further, giving you a ready excuse to cab it.

Use the hotel facilities

If you intend to not give up on your fitness routine, the hotel gym is your best bet. It gives you a chance to try out new equipment—a good change from your regular routine.

Several hotels have free yoga, Pilates or meditation sessions; take advantage of them. Sometimes, they even organise workshops of local exercise or dance forms. If your hotel has a spa, book yourself for a good treatment.

Spend some time swimming a few laps at the hotel's pool. [Checking out the hotel and the facilities it offers beforehand helps you plan and pack clothes accordingly].

If your hotel has no pool, or walking is not an option, you can even work out indoors. Do it in your room.

  • Start with a warm up by marching/jogging [slowly] on the spot for at least 10 minutes.
  • Substitute chest presses with wall/ floor push-ups.
  • Work on your waistline with side bends.
  • Substitute leg presses with squats and lunges.
  • Work on your abs with floor crunches.
  • Remember, exercising on vacation should be done with the realistic goal of just maintaining your muscle tone, not improving it.

Take a hike

Incorporate a trek or hike in your plans if your destination allows it. But that can't happen overnight. You have to first get your body and mind ready for it before you leave home. Planning is a vital part of your vacation as it helps you avoid stress and injury.

  • Get into the habit of walking outdoors a few months beforehand.
  • Get a good pair of exercise shoes suitable for the hike. Wear them at least 5 – 6 times before you go on the trip to break them in.
  • Practise carrying your backpack during your training.
  • Stretch your muscles each time you train to keep them flexible and prevent injuries.
  • Ask your fitness trainer to design a programme to get you ready for the trek/hike in advance.

Go for the wheels

All of your sightseeing need not be done sitting in a tour bus or hotel car. If the place you are going to has pleasant weather and you are equipped with the skills, why not explore the place on a bike?

Not only will you get a good dose of fresh air and vitamin D, but you will also be able to build stronger leg muscles, boost your metabolism and build your cardio stamina all the while burning fat!

Besides cycling, you can even try your hand at water sports [if there's a beach nearby] such as snorkelling, rowing, paragliding—they give you a good change from your regular routine without making you feel like you are exercising.

Food in your bag

  • Do not pack all the food that you can think of especially if you are making a train/road journey. Such journeys get a little monotonous after a while, making you reach out for food, even if you are not hungry.
  • Stock yourself with just enough food for the journey.
  • Carry healthy snacks that make you feel full so that you don't get a constant urge to eat. If you constantly munch on chips, you will not only add empty calories, but also excess salt, which will make you thirsty and will not satisfy your hunger. Instead, substitute these with nuts or energy/protein bars that are not too high on sugar.
  • Pack harder fruits like apples or pears; they are healthy and non-messy.
  • Carry water instead of colas. Drinking excess coffee and cola dehydrates you. Stick to plain water and save the extra calorie intake for later when you actually reach your destination.
  • Drink lots of water on the flight to avoid jet lag, fatigue and dehydration. Keep some emergency healthy snacks in your carry bag in case the flight gets delayed or if there is an unexpected layover.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol on the flight; not only is it unhealthy, but it also dehydrates and tires you out.

Gym in your bag

It's easy to continue your workout routine with the help of portable gym gear.

Aquabells

If you cannot do without dumbbells, these water inflatable dumbbells will help you maintain your muscle tone even on the move. They contain a handgrip and plates like normal dumbbells, but the plates are made of special vinyl that can be filled with water to weigh up to 32 lbs [14.5kg]. Fill them up, use, empty the water and repack them in your luggage.

If you don't find a pair of aquabells, take a large 1.5-litre cola bottle, fill it with water or sand [preferable], and use as a temporary dumbbell.

Therabands

Therabands are available in a number of sports shops and even over the internet. They are light and easy to carry and are a good substitute for dumbbells. In fact, with therabands, you can exercise the entire body with the help of rubber resistance.

Skipping rope

One of the most portable exercise gears, skipping ropes are good for burning calories. Skipping gives you a thorough cardio workout that can burn 150 – 200 calories in just half an hour.

Heart rate monitors

One of the best tools to measure calorie burn, heart rate monitors are a great tool to carry around. A heart rate monitor is a digital watch that looks like most other watches and can help you monitor your progress during exercise.

Don't forget to load your iPod with peppy, energetic songs that you can listen to when you are working out.

Use technology to your benefit by setting reminders on your phone to drink water or eat fruits. You can even maintain a food recall in your phone to prevent yourself from going overboard while eating.

Use status updates like "I'm on vacation and I jogged/cycled for 2km this morning" to keep yourself motivated. Feedback from other fitness enthusiasts on your list will help give you another boost.

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Samreedhi Goel
Samreedhi Goel is a Nutritionist and Personal trainer & fitness columnist who has been a part of the fitness industry since 1999. She has helped hundreds of people shape up, lose weight, achieve the body of their dreams, become fitter and healthier individuals and overcome chronic health problems through her fitness studio Size Wise.Her fitness columns and interviews appear on a regular basis in prestigious publications like Complete Wellbeing, Sunday Midday, Rediff.com, Seventeen India, Mumbai.

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