Vacation is supposed to be all about relaxation, but for some, it’s stress-inducing. Many people work hard all year to stay in shape and get to a certain fitness level, so when a week-long hiatus comes along that threatens their structure, schedule, and progress — they panic. How can they possibly maintain their current level of fitness if they lay on the beach all day and have no access to the gym? Luckily, it’s possible, just as long as they’re willing to work out outside the box, and what’s more, more often than not, it’s usually even a little fun. Here are 7 ways to exercise your body even while your mind is on vacation this summer. Just in case you aren’t ready to take a respite from your workout schedule, pencil these exercise ideas into your vacation agenda.
1. Take Advantage of the Beach
The first thing you can do to stay in shape while at the beach is to take advantage of the sandy stuff. You heard us — run, or walk, on the beach. If the stars on Baywatch can do it, so can you. The great thing about taking your workout to the sand is that first off, it provides a good backdrop for your run, and secondly, it presents you with a challenge that you would not have encountered had you kept your exercise to the confines of the four walls of the gym.
There’s a reason beach running seems harder — it is. According to a study performed by The Journal of Experimental Biology, highlighted by Runnersfeed.com, an athlete running on soft beach sand expends close to one and a half times more energy than an individual running on the road. That’s why beach running is ideal for vacationers who still want to sustain their level of fitness while on vacation, but also don’t want to spend their whole week-long reprieve working up a sweat. Beach running is an efficient calorie burning workout that requires only a good pair of running shoes, and when you couple the difficulty the sand adds to it, along with the strong winds that also usually accompany it, you can go to the beach expecting a sweat-filled workout.
2. Try a New Sport / Get to the Court
Or, if you’re not interested in the idea of getting sand in your sneakers, consider trying a new sport on vacation, or indulging your friend or spouse by actually accompanying him or her when they practice their sport of choice. When you’re at home and have ready access to the gym, it’s hard to work up the energy to break outside the box and try something new, but when you’re at the beach or another vacation destination, anything goes, and you may be more likely to pick up a tennis racket, basketball, or golf club. That’s because when you’re determined to get a workout in, desperate times call for desperate measures.
So next time you’re on vacation, keep your eyes peeled for golf clubs, tennis courts, or soccer fields. Your hiatus from the gym has the potential to teach you just how great of a sweat you can work up even when you aren’t visiting your daily sweat box, and you might even return home more inclined to work out in other ways, too.
3. Try a New Gym or Fitness Class
In that same vein, while on vacation you should also consider taking a new-to-you class at the local or hotel gym. Never tried beachside yoga? Get your downward dog on! Outdoor zumba? Exercise outside the box! As we said before, when at home, many exercisers have very little impetus to depart from their normal workout routines and classes, but vacation is the perfect opportunity to do just that and try out next classes so you can see what you’ve been missing out on. There’s also only so many places classes like beachside yoga and outdoor zumba are offered, so while you’re vacationing in the hot and sunny weather, you might as well take advantage of it.
Lastly, the best part about new classes is that the first one is typically free for newbies. Those who run the gyms and classes understand that many vacationers are just experimenting at first, and that’s why they commonly offer free classes, deals, or packages that allow the new folk to try a few classes without breaking the bank.
4. Get a Week-long Gym Pass
If you’re still craving a sweaty gym even after all the alternatives we’ve provided, go ahead and get yourself a gym pass. If that’s your way of indulging yourself while on vacation, so be it. We won’t judge you. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that even vacation towns have gyms and fitness centers, and many of them offer consumers one-week passes or more. These temporary memberships likely won’t come cheap, but for many, they’re worth it.
Or, get in the water! If you’re in the mood to get your heat rate up while on vacation, don’t make the mistake of discounting how great of a workout swimming can be. Many people have access to a pool when they’re taking their annual reprieve, and luckily for them, if they swim laps and take their swimming seriously, they can burn mega calories, build cardiorespiratory fitness, and build muscle mass, all while incinerating fat. It only requires a bathing suit and a good freestyle or breast stroke to get in a workout while in the blue, and even better, swimming is the perfect exercise for athletes who are injured as it is completely low impact. Jump in!
6. Explore the Town By Foot
Here’s another way to break a sweat without breaking into the gym: explore your vacation town by foot and rack up your miles. You need to visit the local grocery store, tourist center, restaurant, and ice cream parlor anyway — you might as well burn some calories while en route.
When you’re planning your next vacation and stressing out over your hiatus from the gym, keep in mind that yes, vacations typically involve eating a lot, but they also involve walking a lot, too. Vacationers often leave their cars at home and navigate new towns by foot, and as long as they stay on their feet and keep walking along, they’re bound to get a good workout in, sometimes an even better one than they would have had otherwise, depending on the longevity of their day.
Bring a pair of good shoes on your next trip and forget about your rental car when the distances allow it. You’ll get more of a feel for a new city or town when you take it by foot, and that way, you won’t even have to set aside an extra hour of exercise. See, you can have your work out and enjoy it too.
7. Active Rest
Lastly, two words: active rest. If you’re really stressing about your temporary break from the gym, maybe you (and your body) actually need it. Active rest is the term athletes use when they are taking a break from training but are still engaging in low intensity exercise that includes walking (see No. 6), hiking, biking, or casually swimming. That’s because low intensity exercise flushes out lactic acid and delivers oxygen to the muscles, activities that keep the target heart rate in the 60 – 65 percent range is encouraged for serious athletes, because even they take a break from rigorous exercise, too.
So maybe you should consider keeping your training gloves off or taking a break from the high intensity spinning room. Vacation is the perfect time to grant your body a much deserved break, and instead of going for 10-mile training runs or hitting up the gym early in the morning, consider valuing a beach walk, ocean swim, or ice cream run as sufficient exercise for the day. A little rest won’t kill you, and you’ll likely return home feeling even more refreshed and ready to go.