As a community of mindful movement instructors and fitness enthusiasts, keeping fit while on vacation is something we talk about often and strive to do.
While it’s great to give your body a rest when it needs it, you shouldn’t abandon your exercise plan altogether when traveling.
In a 2018 study published in the journal Diabetologia, researchers recorded how 45 regularly active people were affected by a four-hour increase in sedentary behavior per day over the course of two weeks. The findings were stark: Even this short pause in physical activity had significant side effects, including a reduction in insulin sensitivity and cardiorespiratory fitness, and an increase in central and liver fat.
All this is to say that movement is important— and some level of exercise should be maintained (while still making time for lying on the beach). It doesn’t have to be daunting though, there are many fun and easy ways to incorporate physical activity into your vacation plans, as we’ve outlined here.
Merrithew® Lead Instructor Trainer Saulo Ouverney demonstrates some gentle stretches and muscle strengthening exercises that use our travel-friendly Flex-Band® for added resistance. These exercises can be done pretty much anywhere— at the airport, in a hotel room, maybe even beside the pool.
1. Lateral flexion with Flex-Band
How: Sit on a chair with the Flex-Band under your thighs, with even lengths on both sides. Hold onto one end of the Flex-Band and lengthen into a side bend. Repeat on other side.
Why: This exercise mobilizes the shoulder and spine in the coronal plane of motion. You’ll work the deltoids as well as the lateral trunk flexors.
2. Rotation with Flex-Band
How: Remain in the same seated position as Exercise 1. Hold one end of the Flex-Band in both hands, with arms held out in front of your chest. Rotate your spine away from the Flex-Band. Repeat on other side.
Why: This functional exercise works the torso rotators on the front and back of the body. While stabilizing the arms in front of the center of the chest, you can focus on the benefits of spinal rotation, mobilizing the spine in the transverse plane of movement.
3. High row with staggered legs
How: Place the Flex-Band under the front foot, with even lengths on both sides. Hold each end of the Flex-Band and bring hands to chest height, flexing the elbows to the sides in a high row. Repeat.
Why: This functional exercise is great for stabilizing the back and front of the torso, allowing you to mobilize the shoulder and elbows while strengthening the deltoids.
4. Side leg raise standing
How: You’ll need a chair for assistance with this one. Hold both ends of the Flex-Band in one hand, gripping them against the chair. Place one foot in the middle of the band and tip the whole torso toward the chair, while abducting the hip away from the chair. Repeat.
Why: Everyone’s favorite leg challenge, this exercise is great for strengthening the gluteal muscles. Make sure you maintain a neutral pelvis and spine as you tilt sideways; you don’t want to bend the torso sideways as you lean towards the chair. You can put some weight into the hand to hold the chair steady.
5. Flex-Band squat
How: Place the Flex-Band under your feet, holding even lengths in both hands. Squat, lowering eye gaze slightly to maintain neutral cervical and head placement. Repeat.
Why: How often do you squat in your daily life? This is another functional exercise to help you improve mobility for everyday tasks. This exercise works the triple fold of the hips, knees and ankles, and gets into the back and front of the thighs as well as the gluteus maximus.
6. Tricep extension on a chair
How: Sit on a chair with torso angled slightly forward. Place the Flex-Band under your feet, holding even lengths in both hands. Stabilize the scapulae and extend the elbows into tricep extension, reaching the hands towards the back of the chair. Repeat.
Why: This is a favourite for two reasons. When you lean forward, you can target the erector spinae a bit more, stabilizing the upper body through movement; and it works the back of the arms as well as the triceps.
Let us know your tips for combating sedentary behavior while traveling in the comments!