by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
A respite from daily life benefits everyone. A week or two away can do wonders to replenish the mind, spirit, and body. Be sure not to escape the healthy lifestyle you’ve worked so hard to maintain …
Defined as a time dedicated to pleasure, rest, or relaxation, vacation should be about having fun and rejuvenating. Blowing your diet or skipping your workout is not part of the requirement. Continuing your fitness routine during vacation can actually enhance your enjoyment by increasing stamina and adding variety. You also won’t suffer missed-workout guilt. Your vacation may take you to far-flung destinations, or at least too far to logistically fit in trips to the Center. You can still continue a fulfilling exercise program. Here’s how to keep the momentum.
Brainstorm with your personal trainer or Group Fitness instructor prior to departure. To assure compliance, create exercise programs that are brief, effective, and fun. Perhaps add a new, yet simple, element to your routine. Something you’re excited to try when the lure of a sea breeze tempts you to go elsewhere. Learn take-away techniques you can implement while on vacation. For example, if boxing class is part of your regular routine, your instructor can share customized moves to keep you up to speed while you’re without Center access.
Vacation may be a good time to focus on strengthening a weak point. What may feel boring (repeated reps to build a specific area) in your everyday setting might be a mindless task you can execute at random while away. A vacation, or other extended absence from the Center, is not the ideal time to tackle new challenges and increase your fitness level. Absence of guidance to assure your technique is correct, combined with any start-up soreness, could lead to discouragement and maybe a trip to the couch. Besides, your goals probably involve getting maximum play time and beating the crowds to the restaurants (or showers, if you’re staying with a large group).
Make exercise a part of your enjoyment by capitalizing on the change of scenery.
The beach offers the added resistance of sand workouts. Water exercise is low-impact with great cardio benefits. Dive in the pool or ocean and accomplish an aquatic fitness session. Skip the raft and contact your inner-child with methodical splashing and kicking. You may be surprised and breathless from the cardio and laughter.
Hike along a trail or challenging mountainous terrain for an invigoratingly beautiful experience. Choose biking or walking to destinations rather than crowded tourist buses and taxis. Share this time with family. You may not accomplish the intense cardio routine you do when alone. However, a nicely paced stroll provides opportunities to reconnect, laugh, and strengthen bonds. In other words, you exercise your heart in another way.
Vacation is all about downtime, but that doesn’t necessarily include travel time. While en route, do some gentle stretches, even when seated, to keep limber. When at a rest stop or layover, walk the concession area. Do a series of squats or lunges. Pilates Manager Nikki Cifelli shares her Pilates air travel experience in the 100 Days of Pilates blog, “Day 100!” Take advantage of the time, and remember to use this opportunity to hydrate. Re-circulated air and cabin pressure can dehydrate your system.
Include mini-weights and resistance bands in your suitcase. Having them peek from beneath your skinny jeans or bathing suit can be an especially good motivator. If nothing else, they’ll make carrying your luggage a bit of its own workout.
Yoga & Pilates
Grab a mat or towel and head to the sunset or sunrise. These fitness methods in particular are enhanced when performed in unison with the earth. During her journey, Nikki discovered Pilates under the stars induced a heightened sense of awareness within. Perform your favorite movements of these disciplines, or learn a few prior to leaving for just this occasion. You may develop a new ritual to help maintain inner-peace beyond vacation days. (Or during vacation, if you’re traveling with tiny tots or a tricky family member.)
Nature also provides a rhythm ideal for meditation. Get in touch with it on a personal level. Attempt to align your breathing with the ocean’s waves or a bird’s sweet song. Your internal rhythm should quickly fall into a beautiful dance with nature.
These suggestions also can be used during a long weekend or extended leave, including business trips.
Beware of Heat Exhaustion
During vacation, you may find yourself outdoors more than usual. You might even take your workout outside. Without Center-regulated air comfort, you must be aware of the signs and dangers of heat exhaustion.
Heat, and the overall discomfort it brings, can make a workout sloppy. This can lead to minor inconveniences, such as a less-effective fitness session, or possibly a minor injury from improper technique. It also can cause heat exhaustion or stroke. The most dedicated exercisers need time to adjust to hot temperatures before they take their everyday workout to the great outdoors.
Monitor your heart rate, which tends to soar along with the temperature. You may not be able to exercise at the same intensity or length you do indoors. If you’re struggling, slow it down, move to air conditioning, or cut it short with a cool-down.
Make sure you’re still sweating. The body perspires to regulate its temperature. Lack of sweat is a sign your body can’t keep up the pace. It also indicates dehydration. Stop your workout and sip water or a sports drink to replenish electrolytes.
Nausea, dizziness, fatigue, or feeling extremely hot also indicate heat exhaustion. If you experience any of the aforementioned, stop your workout immediately and find air conditioning, take a cool shower, and replenish with plenty of water. Without proper treatment, heat exhaustion can trigger heat stroke, a more serious problem that requires emergency treatment.
Tips for Exercising in the Heat:
• Stay hydrated. (See this week’s Slice-of-Wellness sidebar for requirements when exercising in the heat.)
• Wear lightweight sweat-wicking clothes and a hat. Breathable fabrics help you stay cool and dry.
• Remember the heat alone adds challenge to your workout. Take extra time to warm up and cool down, and shorten the intensity of your workout.
• Exercise early in the morning. The sun hasn’t yet baked the earth. Also, it boosts your metabolism to jumpstart your weight loss goals.
• Wear sunscreen and sunglasses. Keep them with your workout gear so you don’t forget.
Extreme heat can be especially problematic for the young and elderly, whose system may have trouble regulating temperatures. Intense activities should be reduced. For kids participating in sports, initiate a water break every 20 minutes when the weather is hot and humid. After an hour of exercise, a longer break with sports drinks is necessary.
For more information, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics Web site at www.aap.org. In their News Room (found on the Home page), they post a Summer Safety Tips sheet with guidelines on seasonal health issues.
A successful vacation should leave you ready to tackle work projects, household chores, and other tasks that were met with a huge sigh pre-vacation. Although a week away from exercise won’t result in muscle atrophy, incorporating elements of fitness into your time away helps you stay motivated to continue your routine when back at the Center.
Check the Group Fitness schedule. Perhaps your classes are offered at another time, allowing you to make up any missed during your travels. Also, this might be an ideal time to try a new class outside of your regular fitness schedule time.
While indulging in relaxation, good food, entertainment, and even occasional naps, treat yourself to the perks of a good workout. You’ll have more energy to enjoy yourself, and to conquer that build-up of chores, memos, and meetings when you return home. The Center, with its cool air and all-weather pool, is ready to offer you a stress-free welcome back. Think of each Center visit as a mini-respite from your hectic days.
“Kids and Heat Exhaustion,” by David Murphy at www.6abc.com.
“Should You Exercise in the Heat?” by Paige Waehner at www.about.com.
“Tips for Exercising in the Heat,” by Paige Waehner at www.about.com.
Hiking boots (introductory photo): © Pavla Zakova, www.dreamstime.com
Leg lifts on beach: © Edward Bartel, www.dreamstime.com
Yoga on beach: © Darren Green, www.dreamstime.com
Running through fountain: www.flickr.com/photos/sfllaw/265596095