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Prepare for vacation with workouts

by Nancy Conway

The ads are everywhere -- lose weight, work out, do what it takes to look good in a swimsuit for your summer vacation. This might be a good plan if you expect to languish on the beach or hang out at the tiki bar for two weeks.

But most of us expect to pack our precious vacation time with touring, hiking, biking and on-the-go activities. That means tailoring fitness workouts to be in top shape for a fun and healthy adventure.

Whether you are touring the historic sites of Washington, D.C. or Savannah, Ga., the nature that surrounds Anchorage, Alaska or the Grand Canyon, the requirements are the same. It is best to do by foot power -- many hours of foot power.

In Savannah, the Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Tour (based on locations in the 1994 best-selling novel written by John Berendt) takes two hours and the Historic Tour can take all day. Touring the historic homes in Washington’s Dupont Circle area will take four or five hours. Travel guides recommend taking two and half days to tour the sites of Charleston, S.C. You won’t get the flavor of Anchorage or appreciate this beautiful city without strolling the miles of coastal trails, doing some nearby mountain hiking and exploring by bike on miles of bike paths.

Even organized tours can require a lot of walking, and summer heat plus humidity will add to the endurance requirements. Bike tours are becoming more popular, but that mode of transportation requires just as much fitness conditioning as walking. So unless you are resigned to seeing the sites via Lolley the Trolley, start planning to get in shape now.

To get a better understanding of your fitness demands, do the following: Once you choose your vacation, go over your itinerary and figure out about how much walking, standing and bike riding you will be doing each day. It usually takes about two hours to tour a museum or historic home, which translates into two hours of walking and standing on your feet. Come up with an average number of hours (or miles) you expect to walk or ride each day. You may be surprised at how active your jaunt will be. But it will be a breeze if you prepare beforehand with the right workout program. First, start by extending your regular stints on the treadmill, stationary bike, walking or biking. The more time spent on these activities the more you will increase your overall endurance. Recently a man planning a cross-country bike ride was able to prepare for the trip by riding a stationary bike 30 minutes a day for ten weeks.

If you don’t walk or bike on a regular basis, you need to start a daily program as soon as possible. There is nothing worse than suffering with a backache, sore feet and legs on your first day. Many who think they get enough exercise in their normal daily routine are often surprised at how much stamina they need. Not being prepared for the rigors of vacation can turn the time of your life into a nightmare.

But there is much more to consider. According to Certified Fitness Trainer Maia Appleby, core strengthening (abs/back work as a muscle group) and lower body exercises are crucial. She adds that flexibility training is essential to improving posture.

“When people do a lot of standing and vacation walking, they are demanding a lot from their backs and legs. These two things are totally related. When your back hurts, you start walking funny and then your legs, knees or hips start aching - and vice versa, so if one is neglected, it affects the other. “People with good posture fare much better with a lot of standing and walking,” says Appleby. “Back and hamstring stretches are the most effective, but a good all-over stretching program does wonders for the posture … and people who stand straight and tall look better in swimsuits, too!”

To get a clearer picture, check Appleby’s article on walking at http://www.inch-aweigh.com/walking.htm

Encourage others you are vacationing with to prepare as well. If you are traveling with kids, start taking neighborhood walks or hike in nearby parks. Children seem like endless bundles of energy, but hot weather and touring can wear them out, too.

Another crucial bit of planning is to choose your clothes and shoes wisely. You don’t have to wear gym shoes to tour a Southern mansion, but a good pair of walking shoes is important. For hot weather walking, you may want to wear sandals, but make sure they are built for comfort. As a rule, it is best to have as much rubber between your feet and the pavement as possible. Even though the fitness gurus don’t advise wearing street shoes for workouts, it may be a good idea to tread wearing the shoes you plan to take on vacation, just to make sure they stay comfortable after a couple of miles.

The same goes for clothing. Wear loose fitting clothes of natural fibers. Worry more about comfort and less about wrinkles.

Don’t despair and don’t fall back on the tiki bar plan. Then you can get yourself in shape, do all the activities you planned and look back on the experience with fond memories. Have a great trip!


Nancy Conway may be contacted at http://www.shapeupshop.com antsyartist@hotmail.com. Click here to view more of their articles. Nancy Conway uses her many years of journalism experience to write for a family of four websites concerned with sports, health, wellness and fitness. Her favorite activities are bicycling, baking, crafting and anything to do with her family.

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