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ROAD TRIP FITNESS
by Dr. Brian S. Seaman, DC, FRCCSS(C), FICC

Summer is finally here!  Everyone is cleaning up the lawn, trimming the hedge, working in the garden and starting those warm weather projects.  But this is also a time for planning trips and taking a vacation.

It is always important to take some time to plan your trip and vacation; whether it be visiting the grandchildren, touring around Atlantic Canada or travelling to far away lands or exotic places.

Car Trip Advice
One of the most enjoyable Summer activities my patients talk about is exploring our own province.  It is amazing how many beautiful and interesting places there are to visit – most are within ‘easy driving’ distance.  But I suppose ‘easy’ depends upon your definition of a short or long drive.  When planning a car trip be sure to factor in regular breaks to stretch your legs and rest your back.  I recommend pulling over once every hour to:

  • Walk for about 2-3 minutes, and
  • Gently stretch out your back and leg muscles.

Adding 5 minutes per hour to do this does not increase your overall travel time by much but it does mean that you will feel less stiff, sore and tired when you arrive at your destination.
Stay Active While Away
Regular exercise or a fitness activity is important but when we are travelling or on vacation, it is very easy to get out of the habit.  Whether you walk, run, do floor exercises, swim or weight training – or a combination of these activities – it is important to be consistent with your exercises.  Holidays and vacations, by their very nature, can contribute to all of our good intentions being pushed aside.  This is not a good thing.  All that hard work you have put in for months can ‘go down the tube’ in short order.  So it is important to stay active. Maybe it is necessary due to circumstances to modify things a bit: 

  • Regular hourly breaks from driving to stretch out and move about.  This is good for your joints, muscles and circulation.
  • If visiting family or friends take an early morning walk before they wake up; that way you won’t interfere with the plans of the day.
  • If you swim and there is a local pool, consider taking the grandchildren there for a few hours; good for your fitness and gives your kids a break too.
  • When watching TV or a movie in the evening, do some stretches on the living room floor.  Your host won’t mind and may even join you! 
  • Help out in the garden or yard for an hour or two.  This is a great way to get some fresh air, enjoy the sunshine and stay active.
  • When you are outside be sure to drink lots of water and keep yourself well hydrated.  Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can develop quickly on a hot, humid day.

Occasionally when driving, you may come across a beautiful park, beach or lake.  Depending upon your time constraints you may choose to walk a trail, swim a bit or just relax and stretch out those tired, stiff and achy muscles in the warm sun.

Plan Ahead
When planning a trip or vacation at a resort or hotel, check into the fitness facilities.  Some will have such amenities on site where as other will have established agreements with local fitness facilities or gyms to allow you to use a pool, tennis court, weight training, rock climbing wall or indoor track (to name a few).

There are also some locations that have a variety of other activities that are unique, fun and guess what – good for you too!  Kayaking, hiking, whale watching (OK – at least it is fun and unique), horseback riding or wind surfing.

There are always lots we can do when we are away on the road to keep fit.  A little bit of planning and ingenuity will allow you to stay active and maintain your healthy lifestyle while enjoying your vacation.

Reprinted with permission of
The Seniors' Advocate. P.O. Box 5005, Waverly, Nova Scotia, B2R 1S2

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