Make sure to add exercise to any travel vacation, especially if you bring along the children. These five ideas to get the whole family moving are so much fun that the kids won't even know that they are actually exercising!
It takes a savvy parent to keep the family moving while traveling on vacation, especially on those transition days, when hours spent in an airport or riding in the car lead to built-up energy and squirmy kids just dying for some exercise. It's easy for everyone to burn those calories when you're racing around Disneyland or Universal Studios, with all those acres to cover, but most family vacations aren't quite so active. But the kids still need to keep moving, and so do Mom and Dad! Here are five ways to sneak in some exercise while traveling with your children - just don't call it a workout and your kids will never catch on that you're helping them stay healthy and fit.
Swim, Play, Swim
It may be obvious, but always book hotels that offer swimming pools, even if you are staying in a big city. Chain hotels usually have pools. So make sure to pack swimsuits, cover-ups, and floaties (if needed) and get into the water, spending at least 30 minutes turning pool playtime into a covert exercise session.
Walk, Don't Ride
Walking is the best exercise there is, but all too often families choose to ride right up to their destination. But just a little shift in thinking can reap big health rewards for everyone. While in a big city, simply leave the car in the hotel garage, pass on riding the bus or subway and walk to the museum, park, monuments, etc. that are on the day's agenda. Turn it into a walking game by getting a pedometer for each family member, and see if everyone can reach the healthy goal of 10,000 steps every day of the vacation. Try offering the kids a prize for the one who logs the most steps during your vacation; make it a good one, so they stay motivated right through to the end.
Play a Round of Disc Golf
Ever played disc golf? It's a great sport, one that combines throwing discs (a heavier version of a Frisbee) at chain baskets while tramping across acres of pretty parkland. And with over 3,000 courses scattered across America, there's sure to be a course nearby, no matter where you roam on vacation. All you need is a driver disc for each family member (generally priced between $7 to $20) and perhaps a putter disc or two to share (also $7 to $20). Once your kids hear the clang of their disc landing in the basket, they'll be hooked, and won't even realize that the hike across the course is actually exercise.
Add a Stretch to the Day
Vacations can be a hectic time, racing from one destination to the next, with sedentary hours spent sitting in the car or on a plane. Keeping everyone's body limber is a key to staying fit, so why not add in a quick family stretching routine each morning? Gather the clan into one room (or head outside onto the lawn if the weather permits) and do just 10 minutes of yoga-related stretches to start the day. Kids will love names like "downward dog," "cobra," and "happy baby," which are all stretches that even your youngest child can try. Get kids engaged by adding a little competition: Who can touch their toes? Who can hold a position the longest? Who can do the best warrior pose? Give the winner a little prize every day, and they'll be eager to join in each morning.
Climb to the Top
Add a bit of vertical exercise to your day, regardless of whether your vacation is an urban adventure or one set in the great outdoors. If you're seeing the sights of a city r tourist town, ask your hotel to put the family on the fourth or fifth floor, then forget the elevator (once the luggage is stowed) and take the stairs up and down every time you go out. If you're hitting some of America's beautiful national parks, go climb a rock! Hiking up a mountain (or even a small hill) will get everyone's heart racing. And remember, going back down is always easier, but still counts as part of the daily exercise dose that everyone needs to stay healthy and fit.