Before you leave
Preplan. Think about your workout routine and if you can do it in another city, says Helen Vanderburg, an award-winning fitness trainer, motivational speaker and owner of Heavens Fitness, a club in Calgary.
If you're staying at a hotel or resort, find out what fitness options it offers. Does it have a workout room or a pool, or do you get guest passes to a nearby gym? Are there in-room workout options such as free weights, a yoga mat and exercise DVDs? Ask about tennis courts and outdoor running trails.
If you're heading off on a family vacation, talk to your spouse about how the two of you can take turns working out. Plan something active with the family such as a hike or a bike ride.
What to pack
• One versatile workout outfit (top, shorts and/or tights, socks, bra) you can wear for an outdoor run or a workout in a gym
• Footwear for your chosen activity (If you plan on doing several different activities -- for example, walking, resistance training and biking -- Vanderburg recommends you take a good pair of cross trainers)
• In cool weather, extra layers for outdoors, including a long-sleeved light fleece and a wind-resistant jacket (If possible, go for a waterproof breathable one that will keep you happy through all kinds of weather)
• Swimsuit, goggles (and water shoes, if you'll be in lakes or the ocean)
• Fanny pack or small day pack
• Resistance-training equipment such as stretch bands, elastic tubing or portable weights (for example, AquaBells Dumbbells, which are two 13-inch-long bars with collapsible water-filled weights that provide up to 16 pounds of resistance per dumbbell)
• Skipping rope (for example, cotton jump rope, about $8 at fitness stores)
• Tennis or squash racquet
• Exercise video or DVD
• Sunscreen, sunglasses and hat
Wear walking shoes and comfy clothes to the airport; then after you check your luggage, take a trip around the terminal, says Marjorie O'Connor, an Edmonton fitness professional seen daily on “Moves with Marjorie” on Citytv.
If you and your family have a long layover, visit Airport Gyms to find gyms near airports in the United States and Canada.
Keep fit … while you sit
• Sitting in a cramped airplane seat during long flights can lead to swollen ankles and, on rare occasions, deep vein thrombosis, a condition in which a clot forms in a deep vein in a leg. To avoid problems, get up and walk around for a few minutes every couple of hours, “at appropriate times, of course,” says Desmond Ryan, vice-president of In-Flight Services and Catering for Air Transat in Toronto -- that is, when there's no turbulence and food service is finished. Air Transat shows an exercise video so passengers can stretch while in their seats to keep their circulation in check, says Ryan. Some examples include a knee stretch (bring your knee toward your chest and hold) and shoulder rolls.
• Sitting in a car or train can cause stiffness, so take frequent breaks -- even just walking around the car a few times. On a train, get up and walk every half hour or so.
Other tips: Wear loose clothing and drink juice or water to stay hydrated.
• Monitor your heart rate. Travel can be tough on your body, says Vanderburg, who notes that stress can increase your resting heart rate. “Rather than a high-intensity cardio workout, you might just need a restorative workout such as yoga,” she says. A heart-rate monitor would tell you if your resting heart rate is higher than normal.
• Download audio workouts onto your iPod or other personal sound system or listen to a radio or portable CD player.
• Use the Nike+ iPod Sport Kit (available at the Apple store), which acts like a workout buddy. A sensor fits inside a built-in pocket beneath the insole of a specially designed Nike shoe (or buy a specially designed pouch, for under $10, that laces onto the top of your shoe and holds the sensor). The sensor measures progress as you run -- how fast you're going and how many calories you're burning -- and simultaneously transfers the information to the receiver of your iPod nano.
• Use a pedometer to keep track of how many steps you take.
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When your schedule is really packed, sneak in 10 minutes of activity whenever possible, says O'Connor. Head for your room and do 10 minutes of jogging in place, jumping jacks or skipping, or put on the music channel and dance for a few songs; walk three or four blocks and return; or run up several flights of stairs. Try to do a 10-minute activity two or three times a day.
Rx for jet lag
When it's 4 a.m. back home, but 10 a.m. when your plane touches down, exercise can help. It increases oxygen to your body, which helps you feel better and restores your energy. Vanderburg recommends travellers do 20 minutes of light cardiovascular exercise (a walk, a jog or a ride on a stationary bike) after settling in.
Go for goals
Don't worry if you can't work out every day. Most active people can maintain their fitness level with two cardiovascular workouts and two mini strength workouts a week, says Vanderburg.
Don't forget to count walking, if you're walking more on your trip than you do at home. Walking is great for beginners, of course, but it can also be great fitness maintenance, says O'Connor. If it's not safe to run or walk outside, she suggests you climb stairs -- as long as they're well lit and safe -- for 20 minutes.
Be safe when you run
Ask your host or hotel concierge if it's safe to run in the area and if he knows any good routes. If not, contact a local running store or visit Run the Planet for suggested running routes in various cities.
As an added safety measure, let someone know when you head out for a run, and carry ID, a cellphone and a map.
If you're motivated by fitness classes, check on the Internet before you leave or in the Yellow Pages when you arrive for a club that has pay-as-you-go yoga, Pilates, spinning or aerobics sessions, which range from about $15 to $25 per class. Ask about child-care services as well.
If the class is easier than you're used to, increase the intensity by, say, biking harder or raising your legs and arms higher, says O'Connor. “If it's too hard, take it down.”
Helen Vanderburgs's 35-minute hotel gym workout
• Warm up with five minutes of light-intensity cardio, such as walking or marching on the spot.
• Do at least 20 minutes of more intense cardio on a treadmill, stationary bike or other cardio machine.
• Do a five-minute full-body resistance-training workout that includes squats, lunges, pushups, abdominal curls and back extensions. Don't worry about how many you do, says Vanderburg. Repeat each exercise for one minute using a two-counts-up and two-counts-down rhythm. Use free weights, flat band or tubing to add resistance to squats and lunges (hold free weights or put tubing under both feet during squats and under the front foot during lunges) and abdominal curls (hold free weights or put tube or bands around feet).
• To cool down, stretch all the muscles you have worked, including hamstrings, hip flexors and chest. Hold each stretch for at least 20 seconds.
• Find out if there's an adult swim or a time when the pool is relatively quiet and suit up then.
• Do your water workout for at least 30 minutes (jog in the shallow end or swim the crawl or breaststroke).
• Stretch large muscles after you swim.
• Bring your own DVD and work out in your room, if possible. Some hotels, such as the Westin Group, have a workout routine on their in-house television channel.
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