It’s that time of year to look to your personal trainer or your self-styled fitness regime and focus on getting your body ready for travel. While it’s important to maintain overall strength and wellness year-round, travel activities are typically different than your regular day-to-day. Being physically prepared will help you enjoy your time away to the greatest degree possible.
Common Physical Demands of Travel
Travel is fun and exciting, but it puts different demands on your body. Some common demands to be aware of include:
- Lifting heavy bags off the ground
- Carrying heavy bags
- Putting heavy bags overhead
- Walking and standing for long periods of time
- New activities or activities you haven’t done for awhile
Lugging your belongings around can get exhausting. And handling your bags improperly can cause neck, back, or shoulder pain, fatigue, or injuries. An important step in preparing for travel involves reviewing and practicing how to properly lift your luggage. Also work on getting your bag above your head, like when you’re stowing it in an overhead compartment. Consider bringing your bags, packed with the amount of weight you expect to take on your trip, to your personal trainer workouts. The closer your prep simulations are to the real thing, the better. You can also practice at home. This short video provides a refresher for how to properly lift an object overhead:
Walking and Standing
Vacations often involve a lot of walking and standing. Think sightseeing tours and epic museums. The best way to get in better walking shape is to walk more. Increasing other cardiovascular exercise will help as well. You can break up your cardio bouts throughout the day. You don’t necessarily about need to make your workout periods longer; just increase your activity overall.
Being more active, especially if it involves more time on your feet, will also prepare you for more standing. If you have a sitting job, see if you can incorporate some standing in your routine. Standing desks are becoming more and more popular in offices. See if you can put one at your work space, or get creative and rig up your own.
Many people travel to places where the walking paths and sidewalks aren’t smooth and even, or enjoy time in nature hiking. Get prepared for those uneven surfaces by navigating obstacle courses, getting out on trails, or otherwise finding and practicing walking on rough surfaces.
A lot of sightseeing involves getting up to enjoy the view. Oftentimes that requires you to make the climb under your own power. Many European church towers don’t have elevator options, for instance, and you can’t get to the crown of the Statue of Liberty without climbing her 354 steps. Get ready by traversing hilly or mountainous terrain, taking the stairs, up and down, and engaging the incline setting on the treadmill.
Trips are a great time to try new activities or participate in activities you love, but don’t have regular access to or the time for. If you know ahead of time what activities you’ll be doing that you don’t regularly do at home, work with your personal trainer to make sure you’re prepared to get the most out of that favorite or new experience.
Remember, just because you’ve been snowboarding since you were a kid or golfing for twenty years does not mean you can go tear it up after a break of many months or years. Prep your body to avoid injury, but even more importantly, so that you enjoy your outings with vigor.
Choose Strength Over Crash Diets
This topic is more about not sabotaging your wellness before you vacation than preparation, but it’s an important consideration. Many people feel inspired to attempt to lose weight quickly before they travel, especially if they’re headed to a warm climate where clothing will be minimal.
Please remember that diets don’t work—which is why we recommend that you always ditch the diet—and get-thin-fast programs can be dangerous and sap your much needed energy. In the least, they’re stressful, physically and mentally, and preparing to travel is stressful enough.
Work on getting strong and fit—which will help keep your energy up during vacation and reduce chances of injury. If you want to clean up your diet, do it in a healthy way; if you need help, seek a qualified nutrition coach.
Use Travel as Your Fitness Goal
A great motivator for any wellness goal is an event. Use your upcoming trip as that occasion; focus on it to add incentive to get in those extra steps, use the stairs instead of the elevator, or lift a couple extra pounds for a few more reps. If you’re traveling with someone else, or know someone who’s going on a trip around the same time, team up to spur each other on. Plan a weekly hiking date or arrange partner personal training sessions.
Rev up your personal training or fitness program for travel to make sure you get the most out of your treasured time away.