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On a holiday? Remember to keep fit
Kanchan Maslekar
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April 20, 2007

Trips away from home need not be an excuse to avoid a daily workout or put on excess weight. The idea is not to hit the gym at every hotel and spend time away from loved ones. Instead, plan a vacation in a way that you have a great time, and yet manage to remain fit.

Exercise, exercise, exercise!

Exercise not only helps keep up a fitness regime; it also gives one the energy and stamina required for sightseeing, sports and other holiday activities. And, of course, you can burn off the extra calories you tend to consume while vacationing.

Exercise also serves to reduce stress, increase energy and improve sleep. The upside is that you will look healthier and have a more active, cheery vacation.

Exercise can also be fun. If your accommodation has a pool, a few laps each day will be a mix of fun and fitness. Even for those who don't know how to swim, splashing around amounts to a small workout.

Involve the family in your fitness activities and you will find that it increases bonding -- everyone will enjoy it.

Plan ahead

Incorporate workouts as part of the holiday plan. Organise trips well ahead of time, and make sure you don't cram too many activities into each day. Make arrangements taking into consideration the schedule, climate, family time and other factors. The best way to go about this is to make a daily checklist of things to do or see, freeing up at least an hour both in the morning and in the evening. Consult your family to make sure they are okay with the arrangements.

Planning will also keep your stress levels low. Try and reach designated destinations on time. If travelling by air, for instance, make sure to reach the airport well in advance. "Running through security checks to the boarding gate with a couple of bags will only get you all worked up and stressed out," says Dr Deepa Bhise, who lives in Pune and travels regularly.

Dietary do's and don'ts

Restaurant food generally tends to contain excessive amounts of oil, salt and calories. Don't overindulge in such unhealthy meals.

"Many people use holidays as an excuse to gorge on fried, unhealthy foods," says Gargi Sathe, a consulting dietician at a Pune-based health club. "Always include a salad, preferably without any dressing, in every meal."

Try to eat healthy as far as possible, and munch on holiday treats in small quantities. "If you eat health food five days a week, you won't feel bad about letting go for two days," adds Gargi. "Planning and discipline help keep the damage to a minimum."

Make a deliberate effort to snack on health food. Mixed nuts and/ or dried fruit are both tasty and nutritious. Opt for baked chips instead of fried ones, and squeeze as many fresh veggies and fruits into your diet as possible. It is best, however, to put unrealistic or stringent diets on hold while on holiday. You will spend more time worrying about them instead of enjoying your vacation.

Keep a bottle of water handy at all times while travelling, and drink as much as you can -- dehydration is a common traveller's problem. "Water will keep you energised and prevent your body from cramping, whether you're stuck in an airplane, train or a traffic jam," says Gargi.

Walk it up

Walking is the easiest and most convenient form of exercise you can indulge in while on holiday.  Take advantage of every opportunity to walk around. "If your flight or train journey has been delayed, don't sit in one place; stretch and walk around. This will help reduce muscle aches, joint stiffness and swelling," says Kedar Dandge, a fitness instructor at Pune's Anand Health Club.

While at the airport or a railway station, avoid using elevators and escalators; opt for the stairs instead. Says Kumar Gandhi, 30, HR manager at a Bangalore-based firm, "With tight schedules of meetings, conferences and seminars there is hardly any time for exercise. But I have developed the habit of taking the staircase, and it has really helped."

You can also make your sightseeing excursions more pleasurable by walking around. Instead of taking a conducted bus or car tour, walk and explore gardens, museums and other places of interest on foot. Make sure, however, that you are wearing walking shoes and appropriate attire. "Don't be over-ambitious; plan your walks according your capacity and the day's itinerary," warns Deepa.

Try and have an early dinner, and take a small stroll afterwards. "It certainly works for me. Digestion is easier, and a walk also keeps headaches, stomach aches and acidity at bay," says Rashmi V, a marketing manager based in Bangalore, and mother of two.

Put on your dancing shoes

If time and energy permit it, visit the local hotspot and boogie the night away. Dancing is a great form of exercise and, while on vacation, you don't have to worry about waking up early the next morning. It's also a great way of familiarising yourself with the local culture, and shedding the dessert you had for dinner!

Get adequate sleep

Adequate sleep is a must; make this a part of both your daily routine and your holiday strategy. Compromising on less than six hours of sleep a day will only leave you weary and irritable. The holiday will be a waste if you don't catch your 40 winks.

Pack medication

Make sure you carry along a kit of medication while on holiday -- it's always best to go prepared. Get your family doctor to jot down a list of necessary medicines you need to take with you, depending upon your health and the duration of your stay.

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