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Physical training/working out for travel

I’m not sure what category this should be posted to. Does anyone here work-out for specific destinations and activities? I often start training 6+ months before departure; for example, pre- Cinque Terre, I’ll alternate between running stadium stairs, hiking and swimming. As a time saver, during my commute, I’ll carry my Rick Steves convertible carry-on, and over pack it (by weight) and exit a Metro station a few miles from my destination. I find that being fit amounts to better travel, allowing for more activities with less down time.

Posted by
715 posts

I always work out anyways, I am in the Crossfit Cult. As I get closer to travel though I add daily steep hikes up the small range (1000 feet) with my dog.

Posted by
1173 posts

I had an embarrassing lack-of-fitness moment this August --
was on a guided walk of Vienne that ended at a viewpoint atop the ridge
behind the ancient theater, and felt proud of myself for being among only
a handful of tour participants who made the final climb up to the viewpoint.
Told the twentysomething guide that I had to get back to the train platform
in time for a train leaving in 20 minutes or so, and she said she was heading
to the station to catch a train, too, and pointed out the straightest route --
and then proceeded to chug her way along.
I couldn't keep up.
I made my train (just) but I really regretted not being able to continue walking and
chatting with the guide. Didn't have the spring in my step or wind in my lungs.
Moral of the story: 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer at the beginning of the day
doesn't help when you need to be able to do it at the end of an active day.

Posted by
5498 posts

Use it or loss it. For those of us with "office jobs" doing a lot of sitting, cardio and strength exercises needs to be a way of life if we want to enjoy an active life. Yes one can travel with a scooter. But if we can walk bike, ski life as a traveler is better.

Start "training" for your next adventure after you clean your gear.

Posted by
3580 posts

I train by wearing my travel shoes and hauling my luggage around for a few weeks. Whether backpack or bag on wheels, the body is challenged to use different muscles while traveling. Knees, back, shoulders all participate in moving luggage. It is good to do some lifting of 15 pounds overhead to simulate airplane carry-on challenges. I walk a lot, sometimes on stairs. If I plan to hike, I will walk up stairs more.

Posted by
2347 posts

Before a trip, I do several sets of intention-to-train each day, followed by a number of meant-to's every night. As time of departure gets closer, I concentrate on my really-oughta-get-in-shape sets. Then, on the trip, it's just a bunch of shoulda-done-mores.

Posted by
12040 posts

I do the stair climber and squats to keep my legs in shape for Alpine climbs. Plus, I usually do less intense hikes on the weekends when I'm not in the Alps.

Posted by
524 posts

I follow the same exercise plan as Karen but also alter my diet to include more carbs abd sugar-based content and increase the size of my portions - hate to get someplace with great gelato and be unable to keep up.:)

Posted by
45 posts

Touring mostly urban areas, aside from Cinque Terre. Stay in pretty good shape for a sixty year old, not anticipating too many problems. My big challenge is staying limber on the road. My usual routine is to do 20-25 minutes of yoga as a stretch after a workout. No room in my luggage for a yoga mat, and I am skeeved at the thought of using hotel room carpeting. Any suggestions?

Posted by
1099 posts

We've both long been active, walkers mostly, but prior to our trips we start the hill climb (my wife) and I start walking up the stadium stairs, We both increase the number and pace until after 5 months, I can do 15 reps on the stairs running the last 10 up and back. My wife does 10 reps up and down the rough brick street down to the river, mimicking cobblestones, walking briskly. Not too bad for a couple one at 60 and another at 70. Once we get to London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Istanbul, Florence -- all of these cities demand lots of walking and lots of stairs and we have no trouble going all day and into late at night. We sleep really good and are up early to greet each new day as the cities wake up. Best part of the day. We both train and wear in Europe black NB running shoes, suitable for fancy restaurants and even the opera.

Posted by
5308 posts

I'm in the Karen and Diane training program. Possibly practice getting out of bed earlier to train for German/Austrian breakfast hours. (Retirement is great! !) Three months to build up my museum-standing muscles.

Posted by
5498 posts

Prevailing wisdom for physical conditioning is to ramp up with 10% increases in time/distance, combining endurance/aerobic with intensity/intervals and strength. As part of the ramp up, take a recovery week every fourth week or so dialing back but still staying active.

Examples of peaking:
http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/tipsandtricks/a/peaking.htm
http://www.amateurendurance.com/triathlon-training/article/dont-taperpeak/
Last two weeks before travel stay active but easy work while taking care of the technical stuff in preparation for wheels up.

Posted by
2235 posts

I generally follow the Karen-Diane-Laura B workout regimen, which is not exclusively a woman's program. I have done two special things to prepare for my two recent 1-month trips to Italy in 2013 and 2014. (1) I invested in two new titanium hips, that did wonders to improve my ability to walk, hike and climb many stairs and hills; I recommend that investment for everyone, well maybe for some, not quite everyone; (2) I set up a little game, sort of competition: on one side is the many kilometers of walking and climbing, through big cities, small towns and rural areas; on the other side is prodigious amounts of gelato, pasta, pizza, risotto and gnocchi, and somewhat lesser amounts of vino, tiramisu, and pastries. Upon returning home, I get on the scale for the first time to see which side won, actually hoping for a draw. I have various mantras in Italy, among which one is "when in doubt, have a gelato" and another is "enjoy today, deal with the consequences tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow...".

Posted by
9110 posts

You guys that have to get in shape to travel are friggin scarey!

Posted by
4354 posts

I'm with Karen, Diane, and Laura B...except about one month before a trip I also start buying the larger jars of Nutella and I also increase the amount of bread and butter that I eat. We have as many German breakfasts as we can possibly squeeze in. While in Europe it's hard finding the tummy room for eating enough kaiser rolls for my meat, cheese, Nutella, and whatever meat and cheese spreads might also be available, plus the yogurt and granola, hard-boiled eggs, cottage cheese, pork and beans (for those crazy Brits!), fruit salads, fruit juices and lots of coffee. OH, I nearly forgot the light barbells...for the daily wine and/or beer and/or aperitif/aperitivo...Do you know what a liter of beer weighs ?!? Yeah, so I gotta lift those barbells. Of course, actually drinking out of liter mugs is always best. So, I do. If you really want to travel well, you have to make these sorts of sacrifices.

martha546, not knowing exactly what you might want to do AND not knowing ahead of time how much room you may have to do any type of movement, would something like a shawl work? Or...a thin sheet, hemmed to a more convenient size? [Years ago, I cut a twin-sized flat sheet into two pieces and hemmed the cut edges ($4 Ikea sheet, sized 66"x98" = two 66"x48" sheet blankets = more generous than most throw blankets) to make my own 'sheet blankets' that I take on all my travels. Airline blankets are too hot, my sheets also make great rolled pillows, and I've used them as bed coverings there more times than I can count.]

sjsmith, I think it's a fabulous idea to walk with your backpack down the sidewalk and up and down stairs, curbs, etc.! As someone else mentioned, we tend to use rarely-used muscles while traveling - carrying and pulling luggage can be very hard on your shoulder's rotator cuff, back muscles, necks, and hands; we're probably using waaaay more stairs than most of us use, and certainly a lot more walking and standing than usual. If you can get some of your body parts used to these things, it's easier on it to handle the strange beds, cobblestones, airline seats and train seats that await!

Don't forget the large Nutella. You'll thank me later.

Posted by
4354 posts

I'm with Larry, also...at least from #2 on ;-) (although thank goodness for modern medical technology!!!)

I also play his little game...You must eat and eat heartily while in Europe (and other locales) because to not do so is a source of great offense to them! Be a Good Ambassador for your country!)

Posted by
93 posts

Martha, They make a travel yoga mat. It packs well. Folds up like a towel. I have used one in hotels before. Not perfect but better than hotel carpet. I got mine local but Amazon sells them.

Posted by
19 posts

My husband and I packed Pilates bands and stretched out on the bed every morning. At night a hot shower or soak in the tub helped.

Posted by
11613 posts

Ed, Karen, Diane, Laura B, I'm with you.

Martha, how about the extra blanket from the hotel room closet? Or one of the bath-sized towels?

Exercise bands. Now I feel guilty.

Posted by
9110 posts

Nuts. Sometimes I talk backwards maybe. I figure I'm moderately healthy for an old fart, so just kind of pick up and go. Humping close to sea level is easier than puffing up and down the hills at the Wasatch house which is at six grand.

Last week I chugged into Devon out of Heathrow almost too late for supper.

The next day I zig-zaged about twenty miles up and down tors and across the moors. And the next. And the next.

Meanwhile, my hostel roomie was the phantom young blonde Aussie hottie from another thread. She claimed to be a walker, so in the mornings I'd drop her ten or twelve miles from town and she'd walk back while I went on my mad search for megaliths. We'd bat the breeze in the evenings and I wasn't terribly impressed with her times, assuming she'd been walking more or less a straight path.

Now the sad part. I'd about finished up so decided I'd walk a loop with her for the day. We agreed that twenty-five miles would be okay since we really needed that much to cover the scenery. Being polite, I let the hottie chick set the pace. After five miles it was hard to smile and talk at the same time. After ten I figured out I'd pretty well screwed up. When we got back toward the village, I was suffering from acute beer deprivation -- she allowed that she needed a bit more exercise at a faster clip and disappeared around the bend.

Being first in, I made supper. She showed up, ate, showered, prissed herself up, and went out on the town. I've no idea when she came in, but she had the coffee ready when I came down the next morning.

Not wanting a rematch, I lied and said that I wanted to see some more stones and dropped her down the road.

Yoga and pilates, huh? What's that all about?

Posted by
12040 posts

Here's a better idea- make physical fitness a regular part of your routine. The benefits will extend far beyond travel.

Posted by
2347 posts

Oh, Tom. There's more old drunks than there are old doctors, so I guess we'd better have another round. (credit to Willie Nelson)

Posted by
221 posts

Larry, Karen , Dianne, Laura, I hope you are on my trip that we leave for tomorrow! I walked and stretched and ran and worked out (a little) and then fell off the trampoline,while exiting after playing with my grandbabies. Yup, 6 weeks of acupuncture, physio, chiro, massage for damaged knee tissue and also dislocated 3 fingers and pulled a muscle in my shoulder! I'm now good to go tomorrow for 3 weeks in EE and nobody better get in my way at the buffet......but I will Not hold anybody up touring!

Posted by
5498 posts

Next time I will have better upper body fitness. Good point Carol.

Body strength, not just upper body strength, is vital to joint stabilization in addition to just managing ordinary life chores such as lifting your carry-on bag into the overhead compartment (plane, train etc). Even the wheelie folks will on occasion need to drag their wheelie bags up stairs or escalators that are not energized.

And don't expect the flight attendants to lift your bag: http://www.theflyingpinto.com/2011/08/posts-84.html

Posted by
11613 posts

Because of my height, I can almost never lift my bag into the overhead compartment or train rack, but someone - anyone - is always there to help. So far.

Posted by
1217 posts

I normally run 4-5 days a week; vacation is when I jut let go of the cardio stuff and figure I'll be walking enough I won't lose too much fitness.

Posted by
489 posts

This is an interesting topic. What I discovered from my 1st RS tour was that I could cover the distances of the day but lacked stamina and strength. One has to be able to climb tons of stairs, stand on your feet for long periods of time on walking tours, walk long distances on uneven surfaces, get on/off airplanes-buses-trains, and haul your own luggage. It was an eye opener and left me kaput at day's end! I thought I was fit- what a laugh on me.

The same year of my first tour I had started to re create a healthier lifestyle which I had fallen away from. I emphasized nutrition; then exercise of mainly strength training, daily walking, and weekly yoga & Pilates. Happy to say it's just natural today and I don't think of it as work.

Each year I physically enjoy my tours more and can participate in all the activities. I weigh less, am stronger and confidently handle my luggage and myself in all scenarios. The past year I pulled the other canoeists in from the Dordogne canoe river trip so they wouldn't get wet. I helped another lady with her luggage after she had tripped and hurt herself on a walking tour that day.

For those not fit, if you want to travel light and be able to move freely without depending on others, being healthy and staying physically fit is essential. I'm not saying one can not do it. But good health and good fitness adds wonders to your travels.

Posted by
1516 posts

i started walking 3 miles a day about 5 years ago and I'm so glad that I did. I was "training" for a RS GAS tour and, although II was prepared for mall walking, I still wasn't ready for hiking in the mountains. I came home and ramped up my miles. Now I'm up to 5 miles most days. Need to add some steps and aerobics before the next tour!

Posted by
11613 posts

Go Diane! I agree, the better you feel the more you ill enjoy your trip. Learned this the hard way.

Posted by
7680 posts

I enjoyed following this thread while I was on a RS tour. My base walk is usually 4 miles 3 or so days a week. This summer I ramped up and increased my mileage one day a week so was being able to walk a consistent 10 miles before I left on BOE. I also had been doing ankle strengthening and balance work on a BOSU.

I could tell that my fitness level was much better this year than last year when I did Heart of Italy on just the 4 miles 3X a week plan. Last year I had a few days pre-tour with my 20-something nephews where I thought my feet were going to fall off. This year, even after exceedingly long days in Amsterdam and Rome I was fine. With the BOSU work my confidence was increased on cobblestones and rocky paths.

What I neglected was hill work/stair work and upper body strengthening. While I was fine when the RS convertible was on my back, there were times toward the end of my trip that it was almost too much to get it into position. As far as stairs, stairs at home are nothing compared to stairs/steps in Europe with their sometimes uneven surfaces and inconsistent depths/widths.

I do feel being in better shape this year helped my enjoyment of my trip!

Posted by
5498 posts

Pam,

Interesting point about balance as part of your fitness program. Balance, core strength and general strength and fitness are for daily life not just once a year holiday travel.

http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html

Each year, millions of adults aged 65 and older fall.1 Falls can cause
moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and 4 traumas, and
can increase the risk of early death. Fortunately, falls are a public
health problem that is largely preventable.

How can older adults prevent falls?

Older adults can stay independent and reduce their chances of
falling. They can:

Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on
increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more
challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are especially good.

Another link:
http://nihseniorhealth.gov/falls/causesandriskfactors/01.html

Scientists have linked a number of personal risk factors to falling.

Muscle weakness, especially in the legs, is one of the most important
risk factors. Older people with weak muscles are more likely to fall
than are those who maintain their muscle strength, as well as their
flexibility and endurance.

Posted by
715 posts

Yes, ideally as we age we need far more exercise then just a 10,000 step program. Mall walking, or walking around the block, help, but only go so far. I workout with weights, etc., five days a week, but, my dog also takes me for walks in the woods and hikes along the mountains (small ones here in Mass) around my house. The trails in the woods, uneven, laden with rocks and roots, are vital to maintain balance and help maintain all those little muscles.

Posted by
682 posts

Pam, what is BOSU? I have terribly weak ankles.....I can walk distances fine but would love to have stronger ankles.

I've neglected my exercise of late.....we are 6 months out and I plan to get back at it!

Posted by
7680 posts

Kathy, go to www dot bosu dot com. Bosu stands for Both Sides Up, so you can use it by standing either on the side that looks like 1/2 a ball or with the flat side up. I use the flat side for my balance training. I also use the Bosu because I have it. (Here is the disclaimer that I am slightly addicted to home exercise DVDs and equipment, lol!!) There are some smaller less expensive options that I have seen at places like Ross Dress for Less and other discount stores. The good thing about the BOSU is that you can get both feet on the surface whereas some of the smaller balance tools are just big enough for one foot.

I do some moves a Physical Therapist friend gave me years ago for my then-high school aged nephew who kept spraining his ankle in basketball. With the flat side up, 1/2 ball side down, I stand with feet hip width apart. You may have to lightly hold onto a piece of furniture, a wall or counter until you get the hang of this. Hold for 30-60 seconds. (When you gain confidence and some ankle strength, you can rock side to side after your static standing and add in some squats.) Then stand with feet one in front of the other like you are standing on a balance beam. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Then put the other foot in front and hold. Then center one foot in the middle of the platform and see if you can raise your other foot off the platform. Change feet. When you've done it for a while you can actually raise your unweighted leg out to the side or knee up in front of you with perhaps a small squat. If I haven't done it in several months by feet/ankles and legs quiver like crazy so I don't do the whole routine but surprisingly that changes quickly.

Another balance tool I use is a rather boring DVD by Dr. Emily Splichal called V-core. Her delivery is pretty low-key but the moves are good. I have not looked at any balance specific DVDs lately but there are some websites that do user based DVD reviews. If you want that info I'm happy to share.

Edgar, excellent links!

Posted by
5498 posts

Pam,

You must be a 1 percent'r to be able to balance on a BOSU device flat side up for a minute at a time.

I'm wondering if the folks who need roller bags and can't or won't use backpack bags have weak core muscles.
http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/balance-your-way-to-stronger-body

Balance, or core training, is not new, says Kevin Steele, PhD, an
exercise physiologist and vice president of sports and marketing for
24 Hour Fitness, headquartered in San Ramon, Calif. "Physical
therapists and athletic trainers have used these techniques for
years." Now, though, gym rats everywhere are bouncing and wobbling
their way to a stronger "core" -- as the muscles that surround your
trunk are called. Without strong trunk muscles, you're more likely to
suffer from chronic back pain
, lose your balance and fall, or be more
prone to injury when doing other workout routines.

There are several ways to address balance and stability training, says
Crews, including balance boards, stability balls, the Reebok Core
Board, Bosu (which stands for "both sides up") balls, as well as yoga,
and other forms of mind-body training and martial arts, such as
Pilates and tai chi.

Take away message of this discussion should be general fitness and core strength should be for every day life, not just a holiday travel break. Live long and healthy.

Posted by
186 posts

On our first trip to Paris in fall of 2005 the stairs in the metro stations, especially when dragging luggage, darn near killed us. As our New Year's resolution, we started walking in 2006. Just the stamina that walking helped us build up was enough to comfortably travel in the years that followed. My husband is 76, I'm 58. The last two years I've had back issues that manifest themselves as leg pain, so we've walked less and less. We just returned from three weeks in Europe and definitely could tell that we are once again out of shape -- gotta get back to walking whenever we can!

Posted by
7680 posts

@Edgar, sorry, didn't see your reply before tonight. Laughing because really the key to the BOSU is to be barefoot and build up time on the darn thing. It is amazing how quickly you can work up to a minute for each exercise. I do need to hold on to something if I have been away from it for a while but that goes away quickly. The hardest is standing on one leg and having some movement with the other leg. Killer.

And yes, as I now have the red/white/blue health card in my wallet, balance becomes more and more important in daily life.

Posted by
715 posts

@Pam, can you do the Garurasana Pose while standing on one?

Posted by
7680 posts

@jkc...well, I laughed out loud when I read that as I can barely get my inflexible self into Eagle Pose on the solid ground.

I did accept the challenge and yes, with some slight balance assist when getting into garuda legs, stabilizing and then going slowly into garuda arms I could. Once you are there and balanced the hold is not so bad. So, guess I will add this on to the end of my routine! I think with practice I can get into garuda legs without touching the barre I have.

Posted by
5498 posts

Pam,
Your next goal if you haven't perfected it sould be to hold a BOSU pose with an eyes closed standing meditation.

Posted by
7680 posts

Oh my word. Eyes closed will never happen!

Posted by
972 posts

I absolutly train for a trip. I am 49 and chunky, but surprisingly fit. I have also developed arthritis in my knees, so I am on medication daily and must ice and bengay my knees after most workouts, but that does not stop me!

I do cardio 2x a week for an hour (Zumba), which helps with endurance, stamina and balance. But walking is a whole other thing! I have found that walking on a treadmill is not the same as walking outdoors. About 3 months before a trip I will start distance walking. I will start with 2 miles and work up to 10. I found on most of the walking tours we did in London there was sometimes a place to sit when the guide was talking. We are planning on hiking some of Cinque Terre trails so that will be the main focus of my fitness prior to the trip, that should get me up to speed for Rome and Paris.

I am going to look into that balance ball thing. My balance needs work.

Posted by
715 posts

Letizia, it is great that you ramp up your walking so much before a trip. I am sure you notice the benefits. My suggestion, and maybe you already do this, is to walk in the woods, assuming it is convenient for you to do so. Stepping on, and over, stones and roots helps with the balance thing, and works muscles that you won't even know yu have when you confine your walks to even surfaces. Also, walk hills or stairs, if your knees can handle it, you will be happy you did this when you hike Cinque Terre. Although the trails are not difficult for a seasoned hiker, especially the lower trail #2, for a novice trail walked they can be. I would encourage you to get off the lower trails and get to the high trails, much less traffic - no conga line of hikers from Monterosso to Vernazza - and just spectacular scenery. Good luck.