You have a big vacation planned – you’re headed to the beach to bask in the sun or to the mountains to breathe in some fresh air. It’s a chance to see new scenery, relax and unwind. It’s therapeutic to have a break and see new sites – but what about your workout? You’ve been exercising most days of the week and are enjoying the results you’re seeing. Should you work out on vacation or take a break?
If You Take a Break, Will You Become Less Fit?
Here’s the good news. Even if you take a full week off from exercise, you won’t experience a decline in your fitness level. Detraining doesn’t happen that quickly. It usually takes 2 weeks away from endurance exercise to experience a decline in aerobic capacity and you won’t begin losing your strength gains for three to four weeks. So you’re not going to lose the gains you worked so hard to achieve by taking a few days or even a week off.
The Argument for Exercising on Vacation
Before leaving your exercise clothes at home, there are some good reasons to work out even when you’re on vacation. Most people feel better when they stay active and stick with some semblance of a routine when they’re away from home. Plus, you probably won’t eat as cleanly as you do at home, so exercise will help you compensate for those vacation splurges and those high-calorie restaurant dinners. If you’re taking a short vacation, a night or two away from home, it’s easy to justify taking a break, but if you’re taking a vacation that’s longer, you may miss working out after a day or two.
Keep It Simple – Bring Along Your iPad and a Download
The good news is it’s simpler than ever to exercise on vacation. Download one of my workouts onto an iPad, laptop or iPhone to guide you through a quick sweat session in your hotel room. Choose a short, high-intensity interval workout. Do it as soon as you get up to get it out of the way. You’ll give your metabolism a boost and keep it elevated for hours, while you’re enjoying the sand and the surf. There’s another advantage. You’ll feel less guilty when you nibble on things you wouldn’t routinely eat.
For resistance training, drop some resistance bands into your suitcase or travel bag. My Travel Fit DVD or download is perfect for this. Resistance bands travel well and are one of the most versatile pieces of exercise equipment around. Kickboxing workouts are another heart-pumping workout you can do in a small space with no equipment.
You can also get an effective workout using only your body weight. Start the morning off with a circuit-style workout. Do a strength move followed by a cardio move, alternating back and forth for 20 minutes. It’s one of the most time expedient ways to work out and you can do it in even a small hotel room. Even though a number of hotels have exercise rooms, many of them are small, hot and have only the standard pieces of equipment – elliptical machine, exercise bike treadmill and, maybe, a few weights. Bring along your iPad or other device with your favorite workouts downloaded and exercise in your room.
A Little Routine is Good Even When You’re on Vacation
If you go on a longer vacation and stop exercising entirely, it may be harder to get back into the swing of things when you get home. If you need a break, reduce the frequency of your workouts or do lighter workouts. Then try to stay active. Skip the hotel elevator and take the stairs. Leave the car parked at the hotel and walk wherever you can. Take long walks on the beach or hike if you’re in the mountains.
Whatever you do, pack your exercise clothes – even if it’s a short vacation and you’re convinced you’re not going to work out. You may change your mind after you get there and want to “recharge” by doing a quick workout, especially after overindulging in a few too many vacation meals and snacks. Don’t forget your exercise shoes. You’ll be glad you brought them along.
Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. August 2011 – Volume 25 – Issue 8 – pp 2246-2254.
Exercise Physiology. Fifth edition. Fifth edition. McArdle, Katch and Katch. (2001)