I hope you're reading this article because you have an impending vacation. Because not only are vacations exciting and fun, they are one of the best opportunities for using the downtime we have.
And yet, if you spend your entire time away parked on a lounge chair sipping piña coladas, you'll likely return home bloated, lethargic and carrying a few extra pounds as souvenirs. Worse, you'll miss out on the clear thinking, stress relief and mood enhancement that exercise provides. Sound like the kind of vacation where you'd need another vacation so you can recover? Don't let that happen!
Here are four ways to stay active while you're away:
Plan for Activity From the Get-Go
Seek out adventures that combine active endeavors with fine dining, tourism and ample relaxation: surf camps, dude ranches, ski vacations, yoga retreats, bike tours and destination spas all make great vacations. Plus, when you actively use your body for several hours a day -- unlike a typical workday when you're glued to your office chair -- you may find that food tastes incredible, and that all that activity makes you sleep like a baby. Best of all, you'll head back home with a healthy glow (and maybe even a trimmer physique).
Be Active Without Being Athletic
If you're not interested in doing anything "fitness-y" on your vacation, there are still plenty of ways to keep moving while you're away. "Pack comfortable walking shoes and walk your way around town," suggests Ellen Barrett, mind-body fitness instructor and star of numerous fitness DVDs. "Then go out dancing at night." And when physical activity doesn't fit in on your docket, Barrett suggests asking yourself, "What else can I do wellness-wise right now?" It might be doing some seated stretches, or opting to take the stairs.
Enlist Your Hotel's Help
Your hotel can help with ground transportation and dinner reservations, but their guidance doesn't have to stop there, says trainer Ashley Borden. "Ask the concierge for a map and suggestions for nearby hiking, running or walking routes." In addition to fitness areas, hotels also sometimes offer fitness DVDs for rent, on-site yoga classes, or bikes for guest use. Make it a habit to inquire about activities and fitness center hours while you're checking in.
Budget for Physical Adventures
Just as you'd budget for fine dining or sightseeing, put some money aside for activities. College professor Mary Beth Benbenek from Turin, Italy, has learned to earmark money for athletic endeavors as another line item in a vacation budget. "We typically rent bikes, kayaks, or ski equipment when we vacation, and we plan for that expense before we even leave home," she says. New Haven bodyworker Brooke Thomas likes to indulge her daredevil side on travels. "I love to take advantage of opportunities that don't exist at home, so I'll be sure to make room in my budget for paragliding, kiteboarding, or a surf lesson."
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