Once I became a dad, exercise became an even more important part of my life. My preferred form of exercise is running, and there are many reasons I do it — to remain in shape and stay healthy, to set a good example for my daughters, for stress relief, for overall personal enjoyment — the list goes on and on. However, it’s challenging to stay in shape when traveling. Unfamiliar settings, lack of routine, jet lag and large meals with additional alcohol calories can all contribute to straying from an exercise routine and packing on the pounds. Here are some tricks and tips I’ve found to keep from getting the famous “Dad Bod” when traveling.
1. Simple Exercises
Growing up, my father had a simple exercise plan he used every morning. This very basic training was the Royal Canadian Air Force 5BX or 5 Basic Exercises. We joked about his “Mad Men”-era calisthenics, but the simple workout designed for war pilots has stood the test of time. The daily regimen only takes 10 to 15 minutes a day and requires no gym or equipment. The 5BX Plan includes stretches, sit-ups, back extensions, push-ups, and running in place, and progresses in exercises as fitness level improves. In 2016, the book was republished and enjoyed a newfound resurgence.
Another classic and effective exercise easy to do on the road is jump rope. It’s probably one of the best ways to maintain your cardio fitness on family vacations and takes up hardly any room in your carry-on bag. The plastic “speed” ropes last longer than cotton ones, and they rotate quicker for more effective and intense workouts to burn off those hotel desserts.
2. Resistance or Weight Training
Obviously you can’t pack free weights in your luggage with current baggage fees. However, resistance bands offer serious strength training workouts and are very lightweight, portable, and easy to pack. There are a variety of resistance bands on the market. A set will allow you to find the proper level of resistance you need, and you can find an inexpensive starter kit for under $25.
The Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands are flat latex bands, making them great for travel. They loop around your knees, ankles, and more, adding resistance to exercises. The bands may not work for those with latex allergies, and in that case, you may want to try the tubed resistance bands.
The Fitness Insanity Resistance Band Set are tube-type bands with handles on the ends. Use the included anchor to secure the bands to a door in your hotel room, and you can complete a full set of strength training exercises including curls, presses, rows, and more.
3. Running or Walking
Running is still my favorite exercise. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about getting in shape is touring new locales on my feet. I don’t worry so much about pace or time, and I allow myself to slow down, explore, and take photos using my phone. At most family-friendly hotels and resorts, the front-desk or concierge can provide local running routes and maps. A GPS running watch like the Garmin Forerunner 35 can track how far and fast you’ve gone, contains a heart-rate monitor, and also records steps and calories throughout the day.
When running in a new city, I want to make sure I have some emergency supplies with me in case I get lost or in trouble. The LotFancy Running Fuel Belt with water bottles is lightweight, won’t bounce up and down (leading to chafing), holds two six-ounce BPA free water bottles, and has a pocket big enough to carry my ID, cell phone, credit card, hotel room key, and port to feed my headphones through.
4. Hotel Fitness Centers
Sure, most hotels have a fitness room and/or a pool, but some resorts truly go above and beyond to cater to those that want to maintain a workout routine. Kimpton Hotels offer complimentary bikes to use all about town for sightseeing cruises or high energy spins; Kimpton also includes yoga mats in every room. Westin Hotels & Resorts have a running concierge that offers guided group runs, as well as 3- to 5-mile, running maps and a gear lending program. And Fairmont Hotels has teamed with Reebok to offer fitness apparel and equipment delivered to your room, as well as guides with scenic running routes.
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