Staying Fit over Holiday Travel

It’s hard to stay healthy while on the go, but traveling over the holidays can present even more challenges (pumpkin pie, anyone?). Here are our top tips to stay active away from home, whether you are getting together with family or getting away from it all.

Write down your current fitness plan.
You’ll find it easier to follow your exercise regime if you put it in writing. Or list daily on-the-road fitness goals. As an example: (1) walk whenever possible; (2) eat smaller portions; (3) go for a run on the beach; (4) stretch for five minutes morning and night. But don’t go on a guilt trip if you miss a few goals: the point of the list is to keep you healthy, not stress you out.

Screen your hotel’s fitness facilities.
It’s not enough to know that there is a gym: How big is it? What are the hours? What kind of equipment is available? What classes are offered? Are they free? Does the pool have lap lanes, or is it a family free-for-all? Are there in-room fitness offerings like treadmills or yoga mats and DVDs. Do rooms have enough floor space for an in-room workout? Are there in-room whirlpool baths? What about on-site saunas or steam rooms? Call for information and/or take a virtual tour of the hotel on its Web site or on a booking site.

Look into local workout options.
Ask your hotel or host for recommendations, or check out sites like and, created and maintained by two lifelong lap swimmers, has listings of pools around the world that are accessible to the public, as well as some hotel pools. On you can research the world’s races and routes; the latter are provided by fellow runners. does just what its name implies—in about 85 countries. charges less than $5 a month for access to well-edited information on where to work out, run, buy equipment, or play your favorite sport in more than 60 U.S. and Canadian cities.

Research workout routines and portable gear.
All the major fitness magazines (e.g., Health, Fitness, Men’s Health, Women’s Health) have workout routines in their issues and on their Web sites. The American Council on Fitness ( has an exercise library with illustrated moves that target every part of the body. sells a portable travel workout kit with resistance bands, bars, and ankle straps. All of Lifeline USA’s ( exercise products are portable.

Think outside the box.
Can’t find any of the activities you know and love? Try a new one—perhaps one for which the destination is known, and considering getting the whole family on board. Sign up for tango lessons in Buenos Aires, surfing sessions in San Diego, rock-climbing courses in Grand Teton, guided walkabouts in the Outback, or tai chi classes in Hong Kong. Tourist-board, national-park, and city Web sites have information on many such activities. has information on everything from getting started to gearing up to planning a trip around 14 different activities—from hiking to snowboarding to meditation.

Try to eat normally.
Travelers often joke that, on the road, "Calories don’t count"—if only! If your usual morning meal is a bagel and juice, a solid week of breakfast buffets could get you into trouble. Identify your fitness goals before leaving home, and avoid sabotaging them by asking yourself the question: Is this what I’d do at home normally? Do your best to approximate normal eating routines while still allowing for opportunities to sample local cuisines—and holiday favorites.

Photo Credit: cdwheatley / iStockphoto