for vacation with workouts.
By Nancy Conway
The ads are everywhere -- lose weight, work out, do what it takes to
look good in a swimsuit for your summer vacation.
This might be a good plan if you expect to languish on the beach or hang
out at the tiki bar for two weeks. But most of us expect to pack our precious
vacation time with touring, hiking, biking and on-the-go activities. That
means tailoring fitness workouts to be in top shape for a fun and healthy
Whether you are touring the historic sites of Washington, D.C. or Savannah,
Ga., the nature that surrounds Anchorage, Alaska or the Grand Canyon,
the requirements are the same. It is best to do by foot power -- many
hours of foot power.
In Savannah, the Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Tour (based
on locations in the 1994 best-selling novel written by John Berendt) takes
two hours and the Historic Tour can take all day. Touring the historic
homes in Washington's Dupont Circle area will take four or five hours.
Travel guides recommend taking two and half days to tour the sites of
Charleston, S.C. You won't get the flavor of Anchorage or appreciate this
beautiful city without strolling the miles of coastal trails, doing some
nearby mountain hiking and exploring by bike on miles of bike paths. Even
organized tours can require a lot of walking, and summer heat plus humidity
will add to the endurance requirements.
Bike tours are becoming more popular, but that mode of transportation
requires just as much fitness conditioning as walking. So unless you are
resigned to seeing the sites via Lolley the Trolley, start planning to
get in shape now.
To get a better understanding of your fitness demands, do the following:
Once you choose your vacation, go over your itinerary and figure out about
how much walking, standing and bike riding you will be doing each day.
It usually takes about two hours to tour a museum or historic home, which
translates into two hours of walking and standing on your feet. Come up
with an average number of hours (or miles) you expect to walk or ride
each day. You may be surprised at how active your jaunt will be. But it
will be a breeze if you prepare beforehand with the right workout program.
First, start by extending your regular stints on the treadmill, stationary
bike, walking or biking. The more time spent on these activities the more
you will increase your overall endurance. Recently a man planning a cross-country
bike ride was able to prepare for the trip by riding a stationary bike
30 minutes a day for ten weeks.
If you don't walk or bike on a regular basis, you need to start a daily
program as soon as possible. There is nothing worse than suffering with
a backache, sore feet and legs on your first day. Many who think they
get enough exercise in their normal daily routine are often surprised
at how much stamina they need.
Not being prepared for the rigors of vacation can turn the time of your
life into a nightmare. But there is much more to consider.
According to Certified Fitness Trainer Maia Appleby, core strengthening
(abs/back work as a muscle group) and lower body exercises are crucial.
She adds that flexibility training is essential to improving posture.
"When people do a lot of standing and vacation walking, they are
demanding a lot from their backs and legs."
These two things are totally related. When your back hurts, you start
walking funny and then your legs, knees or hips start aching - and vice
versa, so if one is neglected, it affects the other. "People with
good posture fare much better with a lot of standing and walking,"
says Appleby. "Back and hamstring stretches are the most effective,
but a good all-over stretching program does wonders for the posture. And
people who stand straight and tall look better in swimsuits, too!"
To get a clearer picture, check Appleby's article on walking at
Encourage others you are vacationing with to prepare as well. If you
are traveling with kids, start taking neighborhood walks or hike in nearby
parks. Children seem like endless bundles of energy, but hot weather and
touring can wear them out, too.
Another crucial bit of planning is to choose your clothes and shoes wisely.
You don't have to wear gym shoes to tour a Southern mansion, but a good
pair of walking shoes is important. For hot weather walking, you may want
to wear sandals, but make sure they are built for comfort. As a rule,
it is best to have as much rubber between your feet and the pavement as
possible. Even though the fitness gurus don't advise wearing street shoes
for workouts, it may be a good idea to tread wearing the shoes you plan
to take on vacation, just to make sure they stay comfortable after a couple
The same goes for clothing. Wear loose fitting clothes of natural fibers.
Worry more about comfort and less about wrinkles. Don't despair and don't
fall back on the tiki bar plan. Then you can get yourself in shape, do
all the activities you planned and look back on the experience with fond
memories. Have a great trip!
Nancy Conway is a writer for Ideal Fitness Inc., a family of health,
recreatiion, sports and wellness websites: