This is a guest post written by Jessica Thiefels
Road trips mean one thing: a lot of sitting (and minimal activity). This doesn’t bode well for us fitness-lovers, who prefer moving to sitting most days of the week. Luckily, you can still hit the dusty trail for a road trip and keep fitness at the forefront. With a few small tweaks, you’ll make time for fitness and feel great, both mentally and physically.
Pack With Intention
There are so many fitness accessories that take up minimal space, that there’s no reason not to pack a few. While you don’t need equipment to workout on the road, packing these items may end up being the motivation you need to actually work: “I went to the trouble to pack this, I guess I should use it.”
Here are a few items to take with you:
- Fitness tracker: Starting as low as $45, according to a recent pricing analysis, even the most basic fitness tracker will allow you to track steps taken and heart rate. Set a goal for yourself before hitting the road, and use your tracker to make sure you hit it.
- Jump rope: You can fit a jump rope in even the smallest spaces. Not to mention it’s perfect for a full body, cardio workout anywhere you have room. Try this 10-minute jump rope workout.
- TRX suspension: While a TRX set is expensive, you can use the suspension bands almost anywhere—this Lifehacker article will give you plenty of ideas for ways to use them on your next road trip.
- Ankle or wrist weights: While these are heavier than the other items, a discreet ankle or wrist weight will add resistance to everything you do, forcing muscles to work harder. Wear them on your ankles during a walking tour or in the room for a quick upper body workout—10x each exercise, 5 rounds: arm circles, alternating punches, lateral raises, tricep swing-backs and shoulder press.
Explore Every Chance You Get
How many times do you think to yourself, “Oh, I wonder what’s over there?” but then walk away, rather than making the trek to see for yourself? Instead of hopping back into your car next time, let your inner explorer take the lead—assuming it’s safe. Maybe you’ll find a trail that takes you out to a hidden scenic lookout or a relaxing spot for a snack.
Create a “Morning Routine Circuit”
The best time of day to workout is always the morning, before anything comes up—and something always comes up. This is especially true on a road trip; once you’re in the car, you’re not likely to stop for a workout, much less make time for it when you get to your next destination.
Instead of bailing altogether, start your day with a simple circuit that gets activates all your major muscle groups—while still brushing your teeth, getting dressed, etc. Here are a few ideas to try:
- Do a wall-sit while brushing your hair
- Do calf raises while brushing your teeth
- Do tricep dips on a chair while waiting for your coffee
- Do split squats with one foot on the side of the tub or toilet after your shower
Other ways to make time for fitness while doing other things include:
- Use heavy shopping or grocery bags as extra weight for lunges or bicep curls as you walk back to your car.
- Wear light wrist weights while blow-drying your hair or taking a leisurely stroll.
- Do a few shoulder presses when moving heavy luggage around.
- Do 10 pushups with hands on the edge of your trunk whenever you open it to grab something.
Make Time for Stretching
Stretching is one of the most important parts of your fitness routine, bringing oxygen and nutrients to your muscles while improving flexibility and mobility. It’s especially important on a road trip, when you spend most of your time sitting.
Luckily, stretching can be done anywhere, including in the drivers seat. Do the following stretches 2 to 4 times a day to stay limber and fit on the road:
- Neck rotation stretch
- Shoulder rolls
- Arm circles
- Behind-the-back shoulder stretch
- Quad stretch
- Forward fold
Making time for fitness on the road is totally doable if you get in touch with your inner explorer, pack the right fitness accessories, and turn simple routines into low-impact workouts. Use these ideas to feel great for your entire trip, whether you’re in the driver’s seat or strapping on a pair of hiking boots.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a full-time blogger. She is also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition specialist, and the owner of her own personal training business, Honest Body Fitness in San Diego. She’s written for Shape, Reader’s Digest, AARP, Snap Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and more. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for health articles, workouts tips and more.