It can be a challenge to stay healthy while on a trip. Usually, you are in a new place with all sorts of new things to try – goulash and dark beer in Prague, rib eye and Malbec in Argentina, a Philly cheese steak, Chicago deep dish pizza. . . poutine. . . the list goes on. Most places have their signatures, and you can´t leave without trying them. On top of that you are squeezing in as many sites as possible, and before you know it the day is packed with little room for mundane things like exercise. The result . . . the plane ride back, bleary eyed, lethargic, in a post-holiday coma of greasy food and alcohol, resulting a New Years Resolution-like frenzy of water and broccoli for a week afterwards. Well, small tweaks can lessen the pain.
I talked to Vikki Muller, a personal trainer, massage therapist, nutritionist, and generally very healthy gal living in Australia and running her business. We met on a sailing trip in Croatia years ago, and being both runners and avid travellers we got along well.
Vikfit is the fruits of her labor – a fun and friendly fitness program offering a variety of classes, including workouts tailored to 50+ clients.
Vikki´s motto, “Change your tone”, is a great way to approach fitness and healthy living. Vikki offered some tips and tricks for staying healthy on vacation, as well as a handy “hotel room” workout – which can go anywhere, no equipment needed.
1. When on vacation, we all want to relax and fully enjoy the place we´re in. How do you find ways to incorporate fitness without compromising fun?
- For holidays between 3-10 days, I always start by looking for hotel with a gym or a pool. It’s easy to visit the hotel facilities first thing in the morning, and then it’s done and you’re free to enjoy the day.
- For longer stints of travel, I pack a resistance band or two. They are practical, light, flat, and cheap. That little extra bit of resistance is enough for maintenance during the holiday, and you can use them absolutely anywhere, and at absolutely any age, from 20 to 75!
- I travelled for over half of my 20s, and it usually involved a lot of lazing on the beach, eating, drinking, socializing. . . repeat. When I was in a city, visiting the “Must-see” sites was a mission and sometimes a chore. One thing I used to love was getting up a little earlier, doing a run around the city, and ticking off landmarks along the way. I distinctly recall running over the bridges of Scope (Macedonia), running past Buckingham Palace, and doing star jumps under the Eiffel Tower. All these were experiences in themselves. Another benefit – fellow morning runners are friendly people, sharing a hello or a smile no matter what country you’re in. I couldn’t ask for a better way to start the day.
2. Vacation is often a free-for-all when it comes to food choices – the more fries the better! What sneaky ways can we fit in some healthy choices?
- I always like to try out the local fruit – markets or corner shops are great places to find what’s around. On top of that, fruit is super easy to toss into a backpack. Along with some nuts and seeds you’ve got healthy snacks for the day.
- ALWAYS carry a bottle of water. It’s cheap, keeps you hydrated, and wards of tiredness. Forget about the Cokes and sugar drinks between and at meals (you can get these anywhere in the world), and treat yourself to that local wine, national beer, or homemade sangria. You’re getting a taste of the true culture this way.
3. What is your number one health tip while travelling?
- Forget about the train or subway pass. If you plan ahead, you can almost always get a hotel in the tourist heart of the city, within a few kilometers of most sites. Walk, or rent a city bike (widely available these days), be a bit brave, and head out. This way, you are seeing SO much more of where you are en-route as well. If you get lost, just ask directions. Maybe there is a language barrier, but hand signals go a long way. And worst case scenario, you took the long way. . . is that so bad? And. . . don’t forget the water!
4. What are some good all-in-one exercises we can use to keep up our fitness levels while travelling?
- To keep up general fitness while on holidays, target bigger muscle groups. Walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling are great examples. These activities will keep up your aerobic fitness and unwanted post-holiday pounds. And as mentioned above, it’s a built-in free way to explore your location.
- Body-weight exercises can be used, equipment free, for resistance training. Squats, lunges, step-ups, and push ups. I highly recommend adding 5-10 minutes of stretching each day, to keep you loose and limber.
- Remember opposites – if I work my back I need to work my chest. If I work my hamstrings I need to work my thighs. Keep it as basic or as creative as you like. Below are a few whole body options:
- Lower Body: squats, lunges. Activates the legs, hips, and glutes.
- Upper Body:
- Push.ups. Activates the shoulders, chest, and triceps. Desks or benches are good options to do full extension push-ups.
- Bent over or seated rows (with resistance band). Activates the back and biceps.
- Core & Abs: crunches and supermans (back extensions). Lie on the floor with your legs and arms outstretched. Lift your legs and arms simultaneously off the floor, hold for 2-3 seconds, and repeat.
- If you want, you can add some intervals like star jumps, step ups, mountain climber, or jogging on the spot.