Do you ever find yourself on an exercise regimen only to be on a trip and skipping out on a week of workouts? Unless you’re training for a marathon or triathlon, skipping four or five days of workouts doesn’t matter. Trust me. It. Does. Not. Matter if you skip several days of exercise as you enjoy a destination. But as a former competitive runner, I do know the importance of getting in some quality vacation exercise. And as a parent, I know how hard it can be to get in vacation exercise while enjoying a destination and watching the little ones. So here are a few ways I’ve managed to break a sweat while traveling. And I’m not talking about 12-ounce curls. I’ve tried all of these alternative ways to get in some vacation exercise.
When traveling on short two- or three-day weekends, I don’t think fitting in a workout is all that vital, especially if you’re able to exercise the day before departure. When I’m in workout mode at home, I try to never skip more than two days straight. I can accept three days of no exercise if I had a great week leading into the trip and a great week coming off it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t at least try to get in a workout in a destination. I often pack workout clothes to hit the hotel treadmill, or maybe go for a quick run. The problem is, those clothes never come out of the suitcase. Here are some ways I get a workout in when we travel, some of which might surprise you. But trust me, even 20 minutes of walking is important to keep the heart pumping.
Enjoy a Bike Tour
When I was in Toronto last year I took a bicycle tour of the Toronto Islands. It was a beautiful day and a great morning out exploring the islands and seeing the Toronto skyline from across Lake Ontario. While there was a bit of stop and go, I felt the ride was a nice workout. The pace was comfortable, but at a fast enough clip at times that I felt I was getting a bit of cardio in. And I thought the ride would be very family friendly as long as the kids know how to ride a bike and go for a couple of hours. Next time you find yourself in a new city, check out a bike tour. It’s a good way to explore a new destination while getting a little workout in.
Run, Don’t Walk
When I was a kid my mom would park in the back of a shopping center parking lot so we could get a little bit more exercise in. The same lesson applies here. When you find yourself in a place where it makes sense to get a quick jog in, do so. The above photo was taken when I was on a bit of a forced run at the Palace of Versailles outside Paris. We found ourselves on the far end of the massive property with our backpack in a locker that was set to close soon. So while Stacey and Colby took their time getting back, I ran back across the large garden to get our backpack. I’m not sure that I would recommend running across the property of one of Europe’s great palaces, but it was enough for me to break a solid sweat.
Carry the Sack
When we spent a few weeks in Europe I carried Colby everywhere. When in Paris, I carried him. When in London, I carried him. And all across Scotland, I carried him. My reasoning was simple. The longer his legs held up meant the later I could stay out each night. And it worked.
I’m not saying it will work for you and your children, but it worked for us. And it helped develop my biceps, not to mention walking long distances with an extra 40 pounds.
And probably the craziest carrying I’ve done was toting Colby up the 500 stairs at the Eiffel Tower. It was really hard. You don’t have to carry a child, but if you encounter an opportunity to take the stairs instead of an elevator then take a walk.
Go for a Hike
We’re not outdoorsy people, but when we visited Santa Fe, N.M., in the fall Colby and I had the chance to go for a hike in the mountains above the city. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful way to get out into nature. But you don’t have to travel to an outdoors destination to enjoy a hike. Many cities have parks with walking trails, paths through forests or around lakes, and the new trend of converting rails to trails. Even if it’s just for a quick 10-minute out and back on a trail, start your day on a nearby park’s trail. It’s a great way to get out and enjoy a city like a local.
Dive Right In
On a beach vacation? The solution to the exercise problem is simple, as you can just dive right into the ocean and swim, play in the surf or even go for a run. I find that playing in the waves is a great workout. Swim out, glide in with the waves, and then run back out into the surf. You’ll feel the burn in your quadriceps. Or, if you don’t feel like diving into the saltwater, hit the pool and swim some laps or go for a run while the kids play in the sand.
Find Alternative Cardio
When we were in Indianapolis last fall, one of our favorite activities was going for a one-hour ride on a surrey. I had never been on a surrey, but I’m glad we went for the ride. It wasn’t crazy hot that September evening, but we pedaled hard enough that I had to have a shower before going out for dinner. This was a real workout. And it was a blast. I’m not sure how many cities have surreys, but maybe you can come across a paddle boat or maybe even a kayak to rent.
Yes, seriously, go shopping. I don’t feel this is the best form of cardio exercise. But if you buy a few things and have shopping bags to carry it might work as a minor workout. I know if nothing else standing for hours while your wife shops can be very tiring. I feel like I’ve run a half-marathon sometimes when she shops and I, well, watch.