Exercising On Vacation: Reasons For & Against

Last Updated on November 8, 2022 by TJ Daniels, Certified Personal Trainer

If you’re an avid gym-goer or have a consistent workout routine, a vacation can be a difficult thing to navigate. Should you continue your established exercise routine while you are away from home or should you take a vacation from exercise, too?

Exercising On Vacation Reasons For & Against

If you have a vacation planned, you might be asking yourself these questions while being confused about what the right answers are.

In this article, we will look at the reasons for and against exercise and fitness while on vacation. Hopefully, these tips will help you decide whether to work out while you are away.

Reasons For Exercising On Vacation

Let’s begin by looking at the reasons why you should continue to exercise throughout your vacation. Consider each reason, in turn, to see if you feel they are important or not. Some of these reasons may not apply directly to you but others will.

Regardless, you should have enough information to make an educated decision on whether you believe you should commit to a workout routine or not while you enjoy your days or weeks away.

Keeps Your Routine Going

One of the hardest aspects of exercising is finding a routine and rhythm that works for you. If this fitness rhythm gets interrupted, it can be very difficult to return to it later even if you want to.

Many lapsed gym-goers will cite a break in their workout week as one of the main reasons why they stopped working out, as once stopped, they couldn’t get back into the rhythm.

However, by continuing to exercise during your vacation you can keep this rhythm going and return back to your regular workout week as soon as you return home. Discipline and consistency are keys to long-term fitness.

running in place in sand

Maintains Your Muscle

Even if you take a break from exercising for only two weeks, you run the risk of undoing some of the gains you’ve made. If your body is used to regular exercise and this stops, your body will notice and will begin to empty your stores of glycogen.

It only takes about 14 days for your body to then start decreasing your muscles at which time your fitness begins to fade.

When you return to exercise after a break, you will find that it will take a few workouts to reach the same performance you had before your vacation. Your body will need to get back into the routine before it can lift the same weights and run at the same speeds.

By focusing on your fitness while away on your trip, you can avoid this adjustment period.

Vacation Food

One of the best parts of any vacation, especially if you travel abroad, is the food. However, we also know that it is very difficult to eat healthy food while on a trip or at a hotel.

Wherever you go you will be tempted by local dishes and delicacies and by exercising throughout your vacation, you can try more of these dishes without feeling any guilt as you will be working off the calories as you exercise.

People often drink more alcohol on vacation too, and exercising will help keep those empty alcohol calories at bay. This allows you to tuck into your vacation all of the delicacies your destination has to offer without gaining any extra pounds (or minimal).

Couple doing dips on sturdy station.

Helps Against Jet Lag

If you’re traveling abroad and suffer from jet lag, then exercise can help you to adjust to your new time zone. Jet lag can make sleeping very difficult but exercising will tire your body and mind so that you can sleep easier.

If you take your exercise outside, then getting out in the daylight will also help your body adjust to the new time zone more quickly.

You Can Enjoy Your Vacation

Not only does exercising improve your fitness levels and your physique, but it can also improve your mood by giving you a shot of endorphins. Instead of feeling guilty about skipping workouts, you’ll feel accomplished for continuing your routine despite being away from home. 

Reasons Against Exercising On Vacation

Those are all convincing reasons for continuing to exercise during your vacation, but what are the reasons for taking a break? Let’s look at those in more detail.

Man doing calf stretches.

Prioritize Recovery

Your body needs to recover from exercising but we don’t always give it a chance to do so. Having a consistent fitness cadence is important but there are times when your body needs a few extra days for your muscles to repair themselves and tissue to develop.

Taking a break from exercising while you are on vacation will give your body the break it needs but doesn’t always get.

Avoid Overuse Injuries

Everyone is aware of sudden injuries that can occur when your form isn’t correct or you accidentally put your foot down wrong. However, another type of injury to be cautious of is those that occur from muscle overuse.

These occur when you repetitively use a muscle in the same movements over a longer period of time. It can cause inflammation that builds and builds with every workout that you do. Taking a break helps prevent these types of injuries.

Use Your Time In Other Ways Instead

Instead of spending your time in the hotel gym or running, you can spend those minutes in other ways.

Sleep is often sacrificed in our daily lives, especially if you’re trying to fit regular exercise alongside work and family life and vacations can be a great way to catch up on your sleep.

Exercising On Vacation Reasons For & Against (1)

Use your workout time to have a few extra hours of sleep as this can also help your body recover, as well as rest your mind.

Another option is to spend your time outside soaking up some vitamin D instead of sweating in a gym. Relaxing on a sun lounger might feel like a waste of time, but basking in the sun will help you get more vitamin D into your body.

Vitamin D helps several systems in your body, including your immune system and cardiovascular health.

You Might Not Need To

Depending on the type of vacation you prefer, you might not need to exercise at all. There are many ways to remain active that don’t involve hitting the gym, after all.

If you’re going on a beach vacation, don’t spend all day on the sun lounger and instead expend some energy by swimming and surfing. If you’re not used to surfing, you’ll find that carrying a surfboard and crashing into waves is more of a workout than you might expect.

If your vacation spot is full of beautiful sights, then grab a map and go for a walk. You can easily walk several miles a day just by wandering and seeing the local sights all while keeping your fitness levels intact. Avoid taxis and public transportation where possible and just walk instead. 

Vacations are also a great opportunity to try new physical activities that you can’t usually do at home, such as snorkeling, rock climbing, or snowboarding.

Final Thoughts

There are many convincing reasons why you should exercise on vacation and many convincing reasons why you shouldn’t. Ultimately, the decision is yours and will depend on how easily you will be able to return to your fitness regime when you arrive home.

If you think that taking a break won’t stop you from picking up your rhythm when you return home, then consider taking a break. Your body will benefit from the break and you can use your time for other activities.

However, if you feel that taking a break will make it difficult to return to the gym when you get home or are worried you will lose your gains, consider exercising while on vacation.

TJ Daniels, Certified Personal Trainer
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