6 Easy Ways to Stay in Shape on Vacation


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stay in shape on vacation

I realize that the topic of exercise is probably the last thing you want to think about while on vacation. Instead, visions of sugarplums (in the form of umbrella drinks and swim-up bars) most likely dance through your head!

But take it from this well-traveled gal – a vacation is not the time to throw all your healthy eating and exercise habits out the window. Not only will you feel sloth-like on your return (which is never pretty), it’ll be that much harder to pick up where you left off.

So instead of chanting “Oh heck, I’m on vacation!” time and again – here’s 6 easy ways to stay in shape on your next trip (…and you might even enjoy them!):

1. Go for a sightseeing walk (or run)

This is the number one best way to see a new city. Not only will you get your bearings and “lay of the land,” you might even stumble on several “I have to come back here!” spots – which might have been missed in a car. Many cities also offer free walking tours that highlight points of interest and historical sites. So put on some comfy shoes and go explore! 

2. Do a yoga class

Yoga is popular around the world, which makes finding a local yoga class in town or at your vacation resort almost guaranteed. In fact, I challenged myself to 30 days of yoga when I was in Bali (and remember, I had been traveling for 5 months!). Yoga is a great all-body workout but not so strenuous that it’ll have you doing brain cartwheels after a night of one too many drinks. One more reason to love it! 

3. Choose the stairs

Always opt for the stairs over an elevator. Just a few extra flights of stairs a day will do wonders to keep your body toned. But if you want to kick it up a notch, run up and down your hotel stairs (or stairs anywhere) a few times. That’s what I did on my last trip to Sydney, running these stairs at Balmoral beach…before I lounged on the beach.

stay in shape on vacation

4. Explore hiking trails

Hiking is a great way to see the landscape and keep you connected with mother nature. After all the planes, cars and hotel rooms, a little greenery and oxygen will do your body good. Just don’t forget the hat, sunglasses and sunscreen! And maybe some GPS to get you back to your hotel safely. 

5. Have fun with watersports

Want to exercise, but not have it feel like exercise? Hit the water! Go for a swim, boogie board, kayak or do stand-up paddleboard. You’ll burn far more calories than you realize, have loads of fun and create some awesome vacation memories.

6. Dial it up with HIIT exercises

If you’re looking for something that’ll really make you sweat, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is where it’s at. In just 15-20 minutes of focused, repetitive exercises you’ll burn the same amount of calories as one hour of walking the city. Do a series of pushups, situps, burpees, jumping jacks, and mountain climbers until you’re sweaty and pooped. Bonus? In just 15 minutes, your workout will be done for the day – and then you can really enjoy that umbrella drink at the pool. 

How do you stay fit on vacation? Share your tips in the comments below!

About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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  1. Hi Lisa,  I love love your blog and am sending different parts to different people as I find articles and recipes that I think they need, or will enjoy.  My question today is…. do you have a favorite brand of sneaker that you wear for long walks?  I have spent many hundreds of $$ and €€€ trying to find a pr of sneakers that don’t make my feet hurt.  I realize all feet are not created equally.

    Thank you for being you. ?

    1. Hi Judy – thanks for your kind words and glad you love my blog! As for sneakers, I love wearing Adidas shoes as I find them very comfortable with lots of cushion to support :)

  2. I have just discovered your site – it is wonderful, and with a vegan in the family, I was in awe of the various recipes you offer. However, I wanted to make the panna cotta and have never made it as most of the gelatine is made from animals – as indeed does your recipe. Is there another product, for vegans, that I can use instead of the vital beef gelatine?

  3. Great tips! I stay fit on vacation with exercise videos on my laptop, which I do daily (early in the morning, so that it doesn’t take up my day or conflict with anything). Just need a yoga mat or a towel and a little bit of space – no excuses :)

    1. Laptop videos are a great idea! And there’s some many great (and free!) videos on YouTube as well. :) x