By Kitty Bean Yancey
It’s a piece of cake to slide into Slothville on vacation and find excuses for slipping away from your exercise routines. “I’m not near my gym,” you may think. “I deserve a break.” “I’ll diet and work twice as hard when I get home.”
But it’s not hard to tone up on the road if you have a game plan. Here are seven simple ways to stay in shape while away:
Pack gear and portable exercise aids. Toss a sweat suit, yoga pants or shorts and sneakers into your bags. If you regularly use dumbbells, straps, resistance bands or portable mats, bring them along (save for heavier weights, unless you’re traveling by car and can pack them).
Squeeze in time for vacation workouts. Most anyone can carve out 15 minutes or a half-hour at the beginning of the day or before dinner, even if you don’t work out quite as long or as regularly as you do at home. If you’re the list-making type, make one laying out when and how much you aim to exercise to keep yourself on track.
Enlist a fitness buddy. Before going away, make a pact with a pal or family member you’re traveling with to do regular exercise together. You’re more likely to follow through with a partner who can hold you accountable.
Use a condo community exercise room or get guest passes to classes or clubs. It’s great if your vacation home rental comes with facilities to work up a sweat. But it’s also usually easy to find a nearby sports club or yoga or Pilates class. Guest passes usually won’t break the bank, and paying is an incentive to suit up and work out.
Find new ways to stay in shape. Vacations are ideal for finding fun diversions that also keep you toned. Take a hike along a beach (walking or jogging in soft sand is harder than on a firm surface and better for toning). Swim laps. Rent a bike and explore. Play golf and don’t use a cart. Sample a form of exercise you’ve always wanted to try.
Enlist the aid of technology. Keep track of your steps, walking distance or calories ingested on your smartphone via an app. Some apps even act like personal trainers and put you through routines. Or invest in a Fitbit, Jawbone or similar device to keep track of health and fitness stats. If you’re competitive, start a challenge with a vacation mate to see who’s taking the most steps daily.
Counter indulgences with an aerobic dessert. No need to deny yourself the pleasures of a creamy piña colada, crispy boardwalk fries or gut-busting barbecue platter. After allowing time to digest, get moving. Better still, take your vacation mates out for a brisk walk or group bike ride and savor some healthy leisure bonding time. Maybe that will inspire someone to actually start an exercise routine while on vacation.
Kitty Bean Yancey is a Washington, D.C.-based award-winning former USA TODAY travel writer. She freelances for publications including AARP Magazine and AAA publications.