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Staying Fit On A Road Trip

Updated: 09.01.2014

“This time, we’re going to exercise and be more careful about what we eat” — my words to Alan at the beginning of our coastal California sports car road trip. Of course, I should record these words because I say them before every driving trip. Are you a boomer, like us, who has good intentions but ends the journey less fit and a few pounds heavier? You know, we can’t keep surviving a road trip like that. If it continues, our boomer traveling days will come to an end. Instead our travels will consist of doctor visits and medical treatments.

Don’t worry boomer readers, help is on the way. Nora Lynch of Fit Travelers Have More Fun is writing a series of guest posts for us on how to prepare for our travels so that we have more energy to enjoy them. Today, at my request, she’s advising us on how to stay fit on a road trip.

Exercising and eating healthy on a driving vacation?

Many of you may be thinking, “Why would I want to think about fitness while I’m on a road trip? I’ll worry about that when I’m at home.”

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Staying fit on the open road

Three reasons why boomers should include fitness on the road:

    • You’re finding it hard to drop the pounds you gain while traveling — or you’ve given up and aren’t even keeping track anymore.
    • You’ve got a great eating and exercise routine going at home — and you don’t want to risk losing momentum by skipping a week or two.
    • You want to be healthier at home — but are having trouble getting started. Did you know that travel allows you to leave triggers for overeating and inactivity behind? It can be the perfect way for boomers to launch healthier home routines.
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Walk around the rest stop for a boomer break

Seven tips to a healthier boomer road trip:

  1. Check your weight before leaving and upon returning. If you travel 4-5 times each year and gain just a couple of pounds each time, you need a plan to avoid the serious health issues weight creep can bring. Either take steps to prevent weight gain during travel or have a system in place when you return so your weight reaches its pre-trip level within a few weeks.
  2. If you’re very focused and busy at home, you may bring that same drive with you on the road trip. DON’T! Sitting is just plain bad for us. Hip flexors shorten and tighten with too much sitting; and your back may begin to hurt, especially if you’ve been neglecting those core muscles. Make the road trip an opportunity to listen to your body and treat it right. Plan to stop your vehicle  for  5 or 10 minutes of walking and stretching every 90 minutes or so. If you’re tempted not to stop, take a deep breath and consider what your body would like (rather than what your brain is demanding). Your body will thank you for it!

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    Take a hike for boomer fitness

  3. Bring a cooler stocked with fresh fruits or salads — such a treat on a long, hot summer drive. Include fixings for a lovely, high-fiber breakfast to start the day right, avoiding some of the calorie bombs so common on the road. And a piece of fruit 30 minutes before dinner works much better than willpower in curbing our tendency to order the giant portions offered at most restaurants. Another simple fix: order an extra side salad and share one meal, if you’re traveling with a spouse, partner or friend. Bonus points to those boomers who get in the habit of a 15-20 minute walk after eating!
  4. Balance road trips that have a focus on dining and sampling the local cuisine with short local hikes (look online or ask at the visitor center) or include your favorite boomer outdoor activity such as golf or tennis. Bring your gear along and ask about public courts or golf courses. Or rent a bike! It’s fun blending in with the locals during your morning exercise.
  5. If you need more of an incentive to get out of the car, take a pedometer to count your steps. If the number of steps at the end of the day is considerably less than at home, plan ahead for tomorrow. Promise yourself to make more of an effort to get out of the vehicle – extra walking included.
  6. Plan to exercise in your hotel room (or in the gym if there is one), but practice and perfect your routine first at home. Spark People is a great fitness resource. It’s free, and you DON’T have to join to access their fitness videos. For a basic fitness primer, read the Mayo Clinic’s 5 Elements of a Well-rounded Fitness Routine.
  7. Remember, you don’t have to do it all at once. Pick one or two healthy changes for your next trip and enjoy how much better you feel.

So, what are you going to do differently to stay fit on your next road trip? Join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook or send us an email to ask a question or share your experience.

Photos courtesy Nora Lynch.

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