By this time of the year, many of you have already travelled for vacation or at least are planning to do so in the remaining weeks of summer before the kids return to school. Or, you may just be leaving for your long awaited vacation as you read this.
I am often asked by my patients before they leave for trips what I recommend they do for exercise while away from their home. Of course, most larger hotels, cruise ships and major travel destinations have gyms and health clubs available for use by visitors. But, you just plunked down megabucks to take this great vacation. Do you really want to spend hours in the gym, inside when you could be enjoying some exotic beautiful vista that you may never visit again? I know what my answer would be. Many travelers will be physically active during their vacations with hiking, long distance walking, kayaking or swimming. That is great! But, others prefer to totally relax, dozing in their hammock or on the beach blanket everyday. That is great too, as we all need to decompress and let both our mind and bodies heal and rebuild.
But, a lot of us put in great effort on a regular basis to keep ourselves in shape. The hours in the gym or running on the road have elevated our fitness to higher levels, improving our quality of life and helping us just feel better. I highly recommend to folks that they will benefit from some limited, concentrated exercise while away to maintain their hard fought gains in the gym. It is not uncommon for someone to return from a 2 week vacation, and they never get back on their fitness program because of all they need to do after getting back to work, mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, etc.
Here are three of my favorite exercises I often instruct people to do while on vacation. They require absolutely no equipment, cover the major body muscle groups, and the whole routine should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.
1. Rapid step ups: Find a set of stairs. You could go into a stairwell at the hotel or just use a curb. Begin to quickly step up/down the first step. Step up with the right leg, followed by the left and step back down. Keep doing this quickly until you feel your legs getting fatigue, but not exhausted. Do 3 cycles of this. I guarantee you will get a great leg workout.
2. One arm push ups: Lean against a wall with your arm in front of you at about 90 degrees away from your body and the hand flat on the wall. Lean in and push away, keeping the other hand behind your back. The farther you lean in, the harder it will be. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions and then switch arms.
3. Seated core exercise: Sit on a firm chair with your back straight, sitting more toward the front of the seat. Pick one knee up so your foot is off the ground slightly and then take your hand from the same side, placing it on top of the knee that you are lifting and give gentle resistance to the effort of lifting the knee. Hold the effort from your leg and hand for 5 seconds, but don’t hold your breath. Do 20 times on each leg. This is a great core exercise!
So why only 3 exercises? Because you probably would not do 4! Just kidding. I wanted this to be efficient, so you could get back into that hammock for a long summer’s nap!
John Bradley, PT