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How to Have a Healthy Vacation

Salt Lake City area, Utah, Diana Kelly

June 1, 2012 | Categories:

You might have to put down the frozen cocktail for this. Now raise your hand if this sounds like a personal mantra of yours: Vacation is a weeklong excuse to be decadently lazy and indulgent.

I’ll admit it: That used to be my perspective when I’m beach-bound for a break. But the recent research showing how sitting too much is a health hazard—something I do too much of in my non-vacation life to begin with—made me decide to make a Caribbean vacation a more active one (with plenty of time for relaxing and piña colada drinking, of course). So instead of spending seven days planted in a lounge chair while at the Radisson Blu Resort, Marina & Spa, in St. Martin a few years ago (now the Hotel Riu Palace), I signed up for hikes, went snorkeling and kayaking, and did laps in the infinity pool. To stay motivated, I promised myself an indulgent massage at the end of the week if I stayed active. I’m happy to report that I came home feeling relaxed, guilt-free, and that my pants fit just as well—if not better—than when I left. Oh, and the massage was amazing.

Here are 18 budget-friendly fit vacations.
If you’ve got a vacation coming up and don’t want to undo all your hard fitness work, check out these tips from Pete McCall, exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise:

1. Pick the right location.  If you’re still in the planning phase, look for hotels or rentals near a beach or park where you can easily fit in lots of activities with your friends and family.

2. Arm yourself. Find out if you can bring bikes or rent them where you’re staying for a fun, active way to explore. Or, bring sports equipment like a Frisbee, kickball, football, or softball equipment to play on the beach or in a park. Scout out a yoga studio or gym before you go, and check if you can get a day or week pass. If you plan to try beach yoga get tips on here.

3. Sip smartly. When your vacation destination is 10 to 15 degrees warmer than you’re used to, make it a point to hydrate often. If you’re drinking more alcohol than usual, drink even more water to make up for alcohol’s dehydrating effect.
4.Focus your efforts. Instead of floating around the pool and calling it good, set aside 20 to 30 minutes where you’ll exercise with moderate intensity, and then stretch afterward. (Psst! Here are some of the coolest hotel gyms in the U.S.)

5. Expand your fitness horizons. Try new activities, like surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, or mountain biking. But one word of caution: Be honest about your skill level—nothing kills a happy vacation vibe like an injury. (I tried paddleboarding for the first time on this flat, calm lake in Utah and then felt more confident paddling in the Caribbean Sea at The French Leave Resort’s property in Eleuthera, The Bahamas.)

6. Plan for your return. Consider coming home a day early to give yourself time to stock your kitchen with healthy food for the coming week—and upload all your fabulous vacation pics to Facebook.

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