Fitness-Chat: Exercising while on vacation | Health & Fitness

Dear Stephanie and Bruce: I need your help to stick with my exercise plan while on vacation with my family. How do I maintain my exercise habit without interfering with family plans? – Lyn

Stephanie: It can be difficult to find the right balance to maximize spending time with family during vacation while continuing to exercise. My first suggestion is to select a physical activity that everyone can enjoy. Consider a family hike, bike ride or walk on the beach. My second suggestion is to take a good look at your goals for vacation and be willing to trade some of your normal exercise time for extra time with family.

Bruce: Do you have advice for readers who are training for a marathon, triathlon, century bike ride or other epic event and they are conflicted with the tension of wanting to participate in all of the family activities and continue their daily training?

Stephanie: For those of us who enjoy training for events, it’s often difficult to find the right balance between work, family and training. Vacations are important for bonding with family and getting away from the stress of daily life. We don’t want our fitness goals to be the cause of tension or stress. With planning, you should be able to stick to your goals and enjoy your vacation. My No. 1 suggestion for finding success is to plan ahead. Here are some ideas that other athletes have found successful. Maybe some of these will work for you.

Plan your vacation for a week that you have a lighter training load.

Research your exercise options. Is there a running trail nearby? Does your hotel have a fitness center?

Plan to get up early to train before the family gets out of bed. Or exercise at night after you tuck the kids in.

Allow your family to pursue their special interests while you exercise. Maybe your spouse would like to get a massage or the kids would like to take surfing lessons. National parks and hotels often have free or low-cost kids' activities.

Find a fun family activity that can co-exist with your training activity. Can the kids play in the water park while you swim laps in the lap pool? Can the family ride bikes while you run?

Finally, involve the family in planning how you will train and still be fully engaged in the family experience. Your loved ones may have additional suggestions or ideas.

Bruce: This is great advice and will help mitigate guilt, stress and conflict of spending time with family and training. I am curious what you can do for other sources of guilt, stress and conflict.

Seriously, some of us struggle with disrupting our exercise routine while on vacation and can be less than pleasant until we find comfort with a temporary solution. The key is to have a conversation with your family before you leave to better meet each other’s expectations for a great vacation.

Stephanie: To end, I’d like to add that it’s important to be flexible. Things may not always work out the way you planned and if you happen to miss a run because you opted to play with your family, it’s not the end of the world. Just get back to the plan as soon as possible. One missed workout will hardly derail weeks of dedication. The trick is to get back on track as soon as possible. Don’t give up. You can do it!

Stephanie Norton-Bredl is the health and wellbeing director at the Auburn Valley YMCA and may be contacted at Bruce deJong is a group exercise instructor at the Auburn Valley YMCA and may be contacted at

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