Health / Expert Advice

How to Fit in—and Even Enjoy—Working Out on Vacation

Experts share their best strategies for not falling into a workout rut while on vacation.

Chances are, you’ll be enjoying some kind of vacation time this year. As exciting and relaxing as vacations can be, for fitness fanatics or those trying to lose weight, they can also present some stress. Staying on track can be challenging enough. Add in travel, and it can get even harder. But it’s not impossible! To help you continue to achieve your fitness goals while still enjoying your time off, we asked top trainers to share their best advice for working out on vacation.

Plan ahead.

We know that planning our workouts proves effective in keeping up with them. And you should actually map them out before you hit the road. “If exercise is a part of the plan from the onset, you will be much more likely to stick with it once you’ve arrived at your destination,” explains Tony Vidal, fitness trainer and co-founder of Beast Fitness Evolved. He recommends being proactive by looking up what fitness activities exist in or around the area you’re staying. “Gone are the days where the gym is an afterthought in a repurposed closet. Many modern hotels offer wellness centers that rival commercial facilities. And the versatility of boutique fitness has allowed for group classes to be offered in a variety of locations,” he says.

If you’re someone who craves outdoor exercises, consider how a change in climate or time zone may impact your workouts. “Allow adequate time to acclimate to your new surroundings, and always be sure to dress and hydrate appropriately,” Vidal adds.

Set a realistic activity goal.

It’s critical that you’re honest with yourself about how much time you’ll be able to commit to fitness. Don’t let your workouts get in the way of enjoying your time away and vice versa. There’s a place for both! Also, feel free to count the time you spend out and about while on vacation as part of your activity. Those walking tours and all that shopping count. “Modify and account for any non-structured exercise-related activity and let any additional work count as a license for a moderate indulgence of your choice,” he suggests. Gelato, anyone?

Utilize time to your advantage.

Vacation time is tricky. On the one hand, you probably have more free time to work out than usual. On the other, you’re probably filling that free time with other leisure activities. “You may be able to allot more time [to work out] and possibly address any overlooked areas in your normal routine,” says Vidal. However, if you’re on a super-packed schedule, you might be tempted to forgo activity altogether. Instead, try to fit in at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily. If you can only find ten or 15, though, that’s still time well spent.

Choose your workouts wisely.

Be smart about which exercises you spend time performing. “If you are on a more constrained schedule than usual, time can be an intensity modifier that can allow you to increase the effectiveness of your workout in a condensed amount of time,” Vidal says. “Doing compound exercises in concert with interval training, such as EMOM or Tabata, will deliver the intensity and have you ready to go on with your day swiftly.” Some examples of compound exercises are dips, squats, lunges, and pull-ups.

Make it fun.

Remember that you’re on vacation! This means that you shouldn’t be placing added stress or pressure on your plate, even when it comes to getting your workout in. “Working out should be viewed as a reward, not an obligation,” says Vidal. “Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying a new activity or gamifying something familiar can provide a much-needed change in stimulus, making it a memorable experience.” Take your runs to the beach. Do bodyweight exercises in the pool. Find ways to incorporate your family or friends into workouts. Bottom line: The more fun you have, the more likely you’ll keep it up.

Travel with a workout pal.

Not only is it more fun to work out with a companion, but research also supports finding a workout buddy. One study published in the Journal of Social Sciences found that people tend to copy the exercise behaviors of those around them. This means that the more exercising your workout pal does, the more likely you’re to do it, too. Another study published in the journal Obesity found that overweight people are more likely to lose weight when they spend time with friends who are more fit than they are.

“Grabbing a friend or making a new one that’s interested in staying active can offer accountability that will keep you from going astray,” says Vidal. “If alone on a solo quest, making a preemptive social media pact with those closest to you is another good way to be sure [that] you keep yourself honest while working out on the road.”

Vacations, and traveling in general, don’t need to stump your progress. With a bit of planning ahead and finding creative ways to get moving, you can enjoy working out on vacation.

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