How much you exercise on vacation will depend on how you feel about doing it when you’re not on vacation. So if you’re an avid gym goer (yes, you—the one who’s reading this while riding a stationary bike), it’s a no-brainer. But if you exercise under protest, the last thing you’re going to do on your hard-earned vacation is shackle yourself to a treadmill. Nor should you have to. The best kind of vacation is one that restores you to wellness—meaning, you not only get plenty of R&R, but you also reinvigorate body and mind. Rather than seeing fitness on one side of the equation and everything else you want to do on the other, reframe this vacation as an opportunity to top off your energy stores by staying active.
“Finding true health and fitness is not about beating yourself up in the gym or beating yourself up emotionally because you have not,” says wellness expert Helena Collins, founder of Life in Synergy and author of Nutritional Alignment. “Real and lasting health happens when you learn to put yourself first and truly enjoy your body and your life.”
Here’s our guide to staying balanced, active, and guilt-free while you’re here.
1Look for opportunities to move.
The key to reinvigoration is movement, plain and simple. And that’s not exclusive to a gym. “Instead of approaching your fitness plan as athletics, think about it as fully living and experiencing your life,” says Collins. “Take a walk in the morning and enjoy the scenery floating by. Find opportunities to move onboard and off. Before you know it you will have taken ten thousand steps, which is the key to lasting health, and have increased your metabolism throughout the day.”
2Break your routine.
If you’ve been going through the motions at your gym, vacation is the perfect time to try something totally new. “There are always fun classes being offered onboard, including the dance-based Zumba, where you can burn a ton of calories and have fun at the same time,” says Collins. “Plus, you can then use your moves on the dance floor later that night and continue to burn those calories away.” Expand your fitness repertoire and you may inspire some change to your regular routine when you get home.
3Savor your meals.
Part of the blissful indulgence of being aboard a ship is the food. So the last thing you want to do is worry about what you should or shouldn’t eat. “Focus on your favorite must-haves,” says Collins. “Raid the fruit salad, aiming for two servings of fruit a day. Start your meal with vegetable soup or a salad so you keep portions balanced. Think of this time as a luxury with your own personal chef—and live it up.” Don’t forget to savor the taste of every food you try. Sometimes less is more: the more time you take to relish it, the less you need to eat.
4Take some H2O to go.
Don’t underestimate the power of pure water to keep you feeling healthy and hydrated—not just when you’re active but when you’re in the sun or enjoying cocktails (or when you’ve enjoyed too many the night before). “Take a water bottle with you and fill it throughout the day,” says Collins. “Keeping hydrated not only helps with the hangover, it also helps you limit your drinks.”
5Have a quickie.
You can get some fitness in without spending too much precious vacation time doing it. Laura DeAngelis, a certified personal trainer and instructor in New York City, recommends circuit training because of the powerful bursts of activity that you can do in a brief session. “Doing a few minutes of something is better than doing nothing,” she says. She recommends what she calls the One-Minute Wonder circuit, in which you spend one minute doing a series of simple exercises that work every muscle, keep your heart rate up, and burn calories.
6Enjoy instant gratification.
If you’re motivated by reward, can you think of a better place to be? Book time in the spa immediately following a twenty-five-minute workout, or savor a long nap or a poolside read. Planning for a little indulgence after you exert yourself is a very nice perk indeed.
7Or, let exercise be its own reward.
If you love a good workout and always feel rushed to squeeze it in during the workweek, this is the time for you to enjoy what you never get to do—a full five-mile run, some weight-training, or a luxurious twenty-minute stretch session. Consider it “you” time.