After a week spent Indulging in gelato and manicotti or shaved ice and tropical cocktails, it’s easy to find you’ve packed on a few extra pounds in the name of fun, relaxation and well-deserved decadence. After all, the “but I’m on vacation!” excuse was made for that extra piece of lava cake or third glass of wine. However, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the local cuisine and still come home wearing the same pair of pants you left in! With culinary moderation in mind and a few 30-minute stints of the following exercise, you may even find yourself tan, rested, and a pound or two lighter.
While there's nothing exciting about push-ups, sit-ups, or jumping jacks, they get the job done and can be done anywhere. If you plan it right, you can get a full-body workout plus cardio without ever going outside. The key is to commit to simply getting on the floor and getting it done. Consider 20 or 30 minutes in the morning before breakfast, or pepper in a few 10 minute bursts throughout the day (anytime you have to run up to your hotel room to change, grab a new book, or rinse off is a great time to get active).
If you've made this popular form of exercise a regular habit, there's absolutely no reason you can't continue to perform your poses while you're on the road. Although a yoga mat wouldn't take up too much room in your bag, you can always make do with a thick towel or some plush carpeting. If you are used to following along with an instructor, do a video search to uncover the many yoga routines available to you, often for free, or check out Exercise TV. Most towns have at least one yoga studio as well, so ask around and enjoy exploring your favorite posts in a brand new place.
If your vacation rental home or hotel includes a pool, get your daily exercise by taking advantage of the cool, clear water. At the beach, swimming in the ocean provides extra resistance as your body works against the current. Non-swimmers can get a great workout by simply walking in the shallow waters.
4. Walking or Jogging
Sure, you could take a cab or train to tour your destination, but walking is a great way to really immerse yourself in a new place. Consider a daily practice of dodging scooters and perfecting your cobblestone walk part of a new cardio routine. It’s surprising how many steps you can track walking through the market, up the steps of an old cathedral, or in an expansive museum. Consider bringing a pedometer to track your progress. 2,000 steps to walk one mile, and 10,000 steps is close to 5 miles. Bonus points if you’re travel destination involves a beach - a brisk walk or comfortable jog will be even more beneficial as your body works harder to keep you stable in the shifting sand.
5. Resistance Bands
Much like an over-enthusiastic rubber band, resistance bands have resistance and stretching capabilities, and are small enough to be easily packed in any suitcase or carry-on. While they can simply be held and pulled, you can also attach them to a door-knob or place one end in a closed doorway to simulate many exercises that traditionally require free weights or a weight machine.
6. Tai Chi
Tai Chi is an Eastern exercise technique said to promote personal energy for self healing and wellbeing. No equipment is required, so these routines can be performed in the park or beach or in your hotel room.
7. Jumping Rope
If you haven't jumped rope lately, this exercise is far from kid's play. Like the resistance bands, a jump rope is inexpensive and easy to pack. But don't think you can simply grab a rope and jump for an hour. This vigorous, calorie-burning, cardio-vascular exercise should be eased into. Start with just a few minutes of jumping in the weeks before your trip and work your way up to 5 or even 10 minute intervals.
Whether you turn up the stereo and dance your heart out Flashdance-style or go out for a night on the town, dancing is one of the best cardio workouts, bar none. Just because it's so much fun, doesn't mean it's not effective! Many local hot spots offer free lessons and this is a great way to get your groove on while enjoying a cultural pastime. Just make sure to hydrate!
With all of these options, it’s easy to enjoy equal parts activity and relaxation on your next vacation. Just think of the expressions on friends and family back home when they see how great you look!