How To Stay Fit While Travelling

Don't let your exercise regime suffer!

Staying fit while on holiday

Your rucksack is packed, your hostels are booked, and you’re off on the trip of a lifetime. But don’t ditch the health plan just because you’re on the road – staying in shape needn’t be a chore with our guide to holiday fitness.

Fly fit

Aeroplane cabins can be cramped, uncomfortable places to spend a long-haul journey. Boost your circulation and minimise your discomfort by walking around the cabin when you can. Try simple exercises like pony-trots (rising onto the ball of each foot in turn), knee bends, shoulder rotations and neck rolls. An aisle seat might actually be more comfortable than a window seat for a long flight – you’ll be able to move about when you want and there’s not a lot to see out of the window once you’re above cloud level.

In-room workouts

If you have a regular exercise programme at home, you might find your fitness plan goes to pot without your usual class schedule or familiar equipment. But the lack of a gym doesn’t have to mean a lack of exercise - adapt your workout routine to suit your new environment. Use a bath towel as an exercise mat for sit-ups and crunches; use a chair for tricep dips and squats; or try using cans from your minibar as light aerobic weights for bicep curls and deltoid squeezes. Pro tip: drinking the contents of the cans after exercising is likely to undo your good work and cost you a packet!

Hit the pool

If you’re staying in a hotel or villa with a pool, pop in for a few laps daily – swimming is one of the safest and most effective all-round workouts. Pack a swimming cossie and a pair of goggles, and you’ll have all you need for a simple, toning, fat-burning workout right by your room.

Get out into the open

Holiday hotspots are often chosen for their natural beauty – so use this to your advantage and get hiking, cycling or swimming in the outdoors. If you’re holidaying by the sea, try kayaking, windsurfing or scuba diving; or why not join a beach yoga class to get a full-body workout with a bit of toning resistance thrown in from the sand? If you’re a keen runner, pack your kit and check out where locals run in your new neighbourhood – as well as giving you a workout, a morning jog can be a great way to get to know a new area.

Try a new sport

You might not be able to get to your usual Pilates class, but look at local newspapers and community bulletin boards for information about exercise and dance classes that will help you sample the local culture while keeping fit. Salsa the night away in Havana; join a free Tai-Chi session on the waterfront in Hong Kong; or knock a cricket ball across the Oval Maidan in Bombay. Check out the local library or online message board for dance and exercise classes in the place you’re staying, and put the fun back into your fitness routine!

Stay hydrated

If you’re exercising in a country with a hot climate, it’s even more important than usual to stay hydrated during and after workouts. Drink a glass of water before you exercise as well as after, and aim to drink at least two litres of water a day – more if the temperature is very hot. Keep alcohol and fizzy drinks to a minimum, and watch out for signs of dehydration including headaches, fatigue, and not needing to go to the toilet as often as usual. A little and often is the rule for rehydration – drink sips of water until you feel better if you notice any of these symptoms.

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Written by Lise Smith, a former contributor to Lonely Planet's India guidebook - she's seen her fair share of hotel rooms (both grotty and glamorous!). She learned to walk in a hotel corridor in Tunisia, and at the age of three had been on more aeroplanes than buses. Lise writes for a number of local news, technology and arts publications.

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