You deserve a break this summer—but not from daily step goal. While lying on the beach for a week won’t wreck your fitness goals, it could make your vacation less fun.
“For one thing, so much of what’s great about traveling is sampling the local food, and you can work up more of an appetite if you’re active,” says Marilynn Preston, an ACE-certified fitness trainer and the author of the new book All Is Well: The Art (and Science) of Personal Wellbeing. “Plus, physical activity doesn’t deplete your energy, it actually gives you more energy to sightsee, snorkel, or tackle whatever else is on your itinerary.”
Since walking is the easiest way to exercise while you’re away from home, here are half a dozen ways to get your steps in no matter where your summer vacation takes you.
5 Ways to Sneak in Steps on Vacation
Pack good shoes. Comfortable footwear makes you likelier to spend more time on your feet, whether that’s exploring an extra wing of the museum or walking to dinner instead of taking a cab. “Research shows that you can actually strengthen your legs by walking in shoes that are less structured,” says Preston, “so you don’t necessarily need a heavy pair of sneakers with a ton of arch support.”
Take five. It’s easy to talk yourself out of a long walk on vacation. But it’s hard to rationalize being too lazy to take a five-minute walk to a coffee shop near your hotel or terminal gate. And those few minutes are usually enough to jumpstart a lengthier jaunt, says Preston. “Your body very quickly starts releasing endorphins when you walk that make you want to keep going.”
Make a date. “The odds you’ll go for a walk are much higher when someone else is holding you accountable,” says Preston. If you’re on a cruise, sign up for the excursions. In a new city on your own? Register for a walking tour. Traveling with girlfriends? Set a time to meet them in the hotel lobby for a morning walk.
Scale new heights. You’ll get some of the best views of your destination from up high—not to mention the best workout walking uphill to get there. Hike a steep city street or mountain trail to a scenic overlook, or climb the stairs inside a historic lighthouse, tower, or statue.
Embrace the dark side. “There are a few benefits to walking at night,” says Preston. “For one thing, you’ll get to see wherever you are in a new light. If it’s hot during the day, it’ll be much more pleasant to walk after the sun’s gone down, when the temperature is cooler. And taking a nighttime stroll keeps you from spending the entire evening in a bar or restaurant eating and drinking.” Just be sure to stay alert and visible.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.