Depending on the situation, I am *that* person exercising when I'm on vacation. Running, swimming, walking, weight training, stretching and pilates- there truly is no limit on what is classed as movement.
But hear me out: it's not for the reasons you would think a personal trainer with a heavy dance background would still be working out while most would be resting. Today, I am playing devil's advocate: keep reading to discover the reasons you *shouldn't* exercise when on vacation.
Let's talk about the obvious: hotel/ resort gyms are mediocre at best.
Westin hotels (owned by the Marriott group) soft launched a rebrand in the latter stages of Covid-19. The new face lift of the Westin brand promotes a concept which "empower(s) you to maintain your routine, no matter where you travel" (Marriott).
While I can understand wanting to maintain routine whilst you're away- check out my latest share on living in a hotel room for a week- sometimes you're checking in to check out from your day-to-day norms!
You already have a moderate to high intensity lifestyle.
I'm talking to my athletes, my performers, my triathlete and ironman competitors, and my "I go to the gym six days a week" population. Your body needs recovery in order to progress. As one body of research heads, "You can't shoot another bullet until you've reloaded the gun" (Bell, et al 2022). Your vacation can work better for you in that it can: improve recovery, reduce muscular overuse/ fatigue, and enhance training progression and readiness. Leaving the dumbbells down and taking the chance to sit back and be present in your locale is just as beneficial as the last few hours of exercise you put in before you set off.
You've taken on an increased stress load recently, and you need the hormonal reset.
Job promotions are great; project deadlines are always going to be there; family dynamics are always a fun time to navigate (please, sense my sarcasm here). Acute, short-term stress responses are absolutely healthy and encouraged for the human body to experience. Chronic, long-term stress is the one that increases inflammation, decreases digestive capabilities, and alters metabolic adaptations within the body (McEwen, 2017). In times like these, it's natural (and encouraged) to remove yourself from the impacting environment in order to allow cortisol levels to re- regulate. Cortisol is part of the "fight or flight" response, which channels blood circulation away from the digestive system and decreases gut motility! There's no need to sprint on the treadmill in the hopes that you'll be sprinting away from your problems.
Spoiler alert: treadmills don't move. Which means you, running on the treadmill, aren't moving further away from your problems. If you're wanting to run from your problems, I would suggest reaching out to a therapist to speak with!
The last few sessions you've had in the gym have felt like a drag, and you genuinely want the break.
We all get tired of barbell squats (just me? cool...), and if you're committing to a training programme for sport, for aesthetic goals, or for other reasons that programme can be really tempting to throw to the wayside eight to ten weeks in. Instead of kicking yourself for missing workout #3 of your usual weekly setup, why not leave it alone altogether? As mentioned above, deload weeks actually work in your benefit because you're able to give your body and brain more recovery time, which in turn saves up more motivation in the tank for stepping back into it when your vacation has finished.
It's ok to hate the out-of-town gym setup. No one said you *have to* use it.
That week that I spent in a midwest hotel where the nearest food was an ice cream shop? The gym set up was not ideal. If you've found yourself in a window-less room with beige walls, a bench whose leather has seen FAR better days, and an exercise ball that needs some serious inflation- maybe leave it off. Don't fight it, you will probably end up more frustrated than when you walked in to that intriguing set up. No one is forcing you to exercise, except yourself.
And if you have a trainer who says you *have to* adhere to a workout routine whilst on vacation, it's time to get a different trainer who knows how to make your exercise programming work with your lifestyle instead of against it.
But...what if I want to workout while I'm on vacation?
Hooray!! You do you, boo. Exercise (walking, running, swimming, yoga, pilates, bootcamp, strength training) has a host of benefits aside from aesthetic achievements. In fact, you can read here about how exercise can improve digestion! Moreover, exercise/ movement can be utilized for mental health benefit, enhanced self- confidence, and injury prevention.
If you choose to utilize exercise whilst on vacation for these reasons, give yourself a pat on the back.
And if you choose to challenge your regimented approach to your training routine with a mindful pause, you deserve a pat on the back for that too.