For many, vacation is a time to rest from the daily stress of life. For some, this also includes a break from their normal fitness routine. It’s a time to indulge in yummy food and usually opting to sleep in instead of clocking those early morning reps in the gym.
But I’m also a huge proponent of exercising while on vacation. It has a number of benefits that can increase the overall experience of your vacation, but also some benefits that extend beyond your sunny days at the beach.
It’s important to note that there isn’t a right or wrong answer here. Those who choose to skip exercise are not any worse off than those who choose to exercise. However, there are some extra benefits from sprinkling in a little physical activity during your trip.
1) If there were ever a “perfect” time for exercise, vacation is as close to that as you will probably get.
You’ve got fewer responsibilities and ample amounts of time. Your schedule is likely less rigid, and your stress levels at their lowest, putting you in a perfect position to capitalize on this spare time to fit in some workouts.
Okay sure, you might be away from home with no access to a gym. That’s fine! Fortunately, you don’t actually need anything besides your own body in order to get some great exercise. (Not to mention, most hotels now have even the bare workout equipment essentials that can provide some options.)
In fact, I wrote a workout that you can do right from your hotel room that you can snag for free by clicking here.
2) You can capitalize on “anticipatory excitement.”
Some of my best workouts, and many of my unplanned PRs (personal records), happened in the anticipation of some exciting party, event, or new activity that was supposed to happen later that day. This excitement puts you in a positive mood, boosts your energy levels, and generally makes your workouts feel REALLY good.
Why not harness this anticipatory excitement to crank out what will likely be some of the best workouts of your year?
3) You will feel better during your vacation with some physical activity.
This may not be true for everyone (yet), but personally I feel my best after I’ve completed some physical activity. This is true even on vacation. Sure, I could easily skip and enjoy my time relaxing.
On the other hand, I can use some of my spare time to complete a little exercise and feel as close to my best as possible. In my opinion it will enhance your experience, not take away from it.
Not to mention, some people might feel guilty indulging in vacation treats knowing they have unmet fitness goals. While everyone should be able to enjoy these limited time treats guilt-free, the reality is that this guilt can hinder your enjoyment. Fitting in a sweat session can help alleviate this guilt by giving us some comfort that we’ve “earned” our treats. Whether this is actually true or not is irrelevant, because many of us will still feel more comfortable regardless.
Keep in mind, this physical activity does not need to take place in a gym. Walking around town or planning a hike to take in the views are both great ways to boost your physical activity without the extra commitment.
4) It will strengthen identity-based habits.
Identity-based habits are behaviors we participate in because they strengthen our idea of the type of person we are. This is one of the strongest motivating factors that we know of, since humans are in a perpetual state of confirming their beliefs about their own identity.
By participating in workouts even while away on vacation, you will strengthen the belief that you exercise regularly because it’s who you are. Once you can establish this connection, finding time to fit this exercise into your hectic daily routine becomes much easier.
This is why I always make sure my clients have the option to workout whenever they leave for vacation. I always ask where they are going and what hotel they’ll be at, I’ll figure out what equipment (if any) they will have access to, get a sense of their general itinerary, and will help them figure out a plan that doesn’t disrupt their enjoyment.
Sometimes they never touch the workouts, and that’s totally cool. In this case I’m happy they rocked their R&R muscles. Other times they are able to use these workouts to support their healthy habits and feel their best.
In the end, exercise on vacation is about enhancing your vacation experience. Of course, it’s up to you how to enjoy your time off. Either way I hope it’s the best vacation possible. I’ll guess you’ve earned it.
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Admittedly, the idea of exercising on vacation doesn’t seem appealing, though the fact that it can keep you in a routine and allow you to stay active can’t be overlooked.