Stay in shape while traveling

Local fitness experts offer good advice on how to maintain workout goals while on vacation

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter



Do you exercise on vacation?

  • Yes. I never miss a workout. 13%
  • Yes, but not as often or as long. 53%
  • No way. I’m on vacation. 34%

47 total votes.

Did you know?

• More than half of Americans exercise while traveling on vacation, according to a 2012 survey by the travel site TripAdvisor.

• Among the 53 percent of people who exercise on vacation, 31 percent said their primary motivation is to maintain their fitness regimen. Another 28 percent exercise to avoid gaining weight and 14 percent are taking advantage of the extra free time, according to the survey.

Family vacations, road trips and camping weekends are just around the corner as Clark County inches toward summer.

And while some people might seek a relaxing break from their daily tasks, including their fitness regimens, others don’t want to break their workout routine. And personal trainers say it’s not impossible for people to take their workouts on the road.

“It just requires that you plan ahead,” said Sherri McMillan, owner of Northwest Personal Training.

McMillan suggests people decide ahead of time what kind of vacation they want based on where they’re going, with whom they’re going and what type of workout opportunities are available. Then, she said, they can plan their workout schedule around that.

“It’s also OK to take a couple days off if that’s more of what they need,” McMillan said. “But I personally like to do something active every day, even if it’s easy.”

One of the easiest ways to be active while traveling is to walk, said Bill Victor, president of Victor Fitness and Performance Training.

Take a pedometer on a road trip and make it a goal to get in 10,000 steps a day, which is about 5 miles, he said. While driving, stop at historic sites and walk around. Take lunch to-go, and hike somewhere to eat it, Victor said.

Many hotels also provide maps for running and walking, McMillan said. Local running shoe stores also might offer evening runs that you can join from their stores, she said.

Booking a room at a hotel with a fitness center or swimming pool, or one that is within walking distance to a gym, makes it easier to stick to a workout routine. Some hotels also offer workout equipment that guests can use in their rooms. But if not, the furniture in the room will suffice.

“There are great props in hotels,” Victor said.

The room’s coffee table can be used to make pushups more challenging, he said. Put one hand on the table and one hand on the floor when doing pushups. Then switch positions. That way, one arm is always working harder than the other, Victor said.

For even more difficult pushups, put your feet on the bed and hands on the floor, he said.

The bed can also be used for planks, which is when the body is propped up on your elbows with your feet stretched out behind you and your back straight. Doing the plank position with your forearms on the bed and feet on the floor is a little easier than the traditional plank on the floor, Victor said.

Lunges, air squats and wall sits are other exercises that can be done in the room without any props, he said.

People who want to enhance their hotel workout, or make it less mundane, should travel with two pieces of equipment — rubber exercise bands with handles and furniture sliders — Victor said.

The exercise bands can be tethered to tree limbs or bed posts and used for back rows, chest presses and bicep curls, among other exercises, McMillan said.

“They can stick them (exercise bands) in a sock and travel with them that way,” Victor said. “Exercise bands are wonderful.”

Furniture sliders don’t take up much luggage space, either, and can offer even more exercise options, he said. Slip the sliders, which are traditionally used on the feet of couches, on your feet and use your arms and hands to drag your body around the room, Victor said.

The sliders can also be put on your feet for mountain climber exercises: Begin in pushup position, then bring one knee up to your chest, he said.

The hotel grounds also offer exercise opportunities, Victor said.

The curb in the hotel parking lot can be used in place of the exercise boxes used in fitness classes, he said. Place one foot on the curb and drive the knee of the other leg upward.

The hotel’s stairs are a good tool for cardio workouts. You can walk sideways, walk, run or hop up and down the stairs, Victor said.

Getting up early and working out before kids, family and friends are ready to start the day ensures you get in a workout without interrupting group plans. And if you don’t want to do an organized workout, try doing physical activities such as running through the woods, going for a hike or taking a bike ride with your travel companions, McMillan said.

“And remember, it doesn’t have to be an all-out, time-consuming workout,” she said. “Ten minutes may be all you need. Every little bit counts, and something is better than nothing.”