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I don’t know about you, but traveling tends to throw my body off completely. After a long flight or time zone change, I can be tired, headachy, and gastrointestinally challenged for a week. There are only a few things that help — sleeping, staying hydrated, and keeping up with my exercise regimen if I can. (I try not to treat my body like hot garbage while vacationing, but indulging in good food and drinks is something I refuse to give up.)
However, it can be a challenge to exercise because there isn’t always a gym accessible at any given destination. There are luggage size and weight requirements, either because of the airline you use, car trunk space, or just the limitations of your upper body strength. There’s only so much you can do with bodyweight alone if you can’t or don’t want to bring all of your exercise equipment with you.
According to a survey by Expedia, 53% of Americans (including myself) find it “very or somewhat important” to exercise while traveling. That may look different for everyone but can require supplies. While I like to walk as much as I can, walking alone doesn’t always cut it for me.
“I really do love that concept of 10,000 steps a day, and I really do think that is worth something,” said Holly Perkins, a certified strength and conditioning expert and author of Lift to Get Lean. “Now, here’s the thing. It’s really kind of a low intensity activity. You’re not really getting your heart rate up, you’re not really taxing your musculoskeletal system. So I don’t consider it a workout, but I do think that it has a value in terms of your general health. And anytime that I do that I find I just feel better when I come back from time away.”
If you’re lucky enough to be on a beach, walking or jogging in the sand will get you more bang for your buck from a fitness perspective, though Perkins isn’t the biggest fan of running barefoot. She recommends more of an interval walk/jog in those scenarios.
“Let’s say you walk for two minutes, jog for 30 seconds or one minute on the beach,” she said. “That would be suitable.”
How to work out while traveling
Perkins has her travel exercise routine down to a T, and she knows what to do when space is limited.
All you need to do is choose five exercises (like squats, lunges, crunches, mountain climbers, burpees, planks, or something else), do two sets of 10 for each, and then any kind of cardio workout for five minutes. Repeat that two more times, so three rounds total.
“People generally tend to choose their favorite exercises, or the ones that they know the best, but pick any random five exercises,” she said. “And then any kind of cardio application, like the jump rope. It could even be jumping jacks. It could be walking. It could be jogging in a small space.”
She finds that people are more likely to do a workout if it involves exercises that they already know or like, so it won’t feel as intimidating. For the cardio component, while you don’t need any equipment, a jump rope is one of her favorite tools to travel with.
Anything that gets you up and moving on vacation is better than nothing at all, according to Perkins, but this sort of simple routine can challenge your body enough to get your heart rate up and enjoy some real benefits.
There are also plenty of other pieces of exercise equipment that can assist you in bodyweight workouts and are small and light enough to travel with. If you’re looking for that extra bit of help or motivation to stay active while you’re traveling, all of this portable gear is easily packable.