Do you always return from vacation a few pounds heavier? Is it a struggle to get back to the gym after a week with the family? Does just watching kids run around make you tired? You may be suffering from a condition called family vacation health deficiency syndrome. The cure? Just a little planning and some research, and you’re well on your way to a healthier family getaway.
Here are seven ways to make your vacation more active.
When picking a travel destination, you really can’t go wrong with any place that’s near water. Whether it’s an ocean, lake, river, or stream, these locales are always rife with fun, calorie-burning activities for young and old, such as swimming, kayaking, sailing, and surfing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who swim have about half the risk of death compared to inactive people. Instead of sunning yourself on the beach, join the kids for a game or guided lesson.
One of the pitfalls of any vacation is getting hungry and resorting to food that is fast, convenient, and usually unhealthy. Before leaving town, stock up on healthy hunger-busters such as fruit, yogurt, granola bars, and string cheese. If you’re traveling far, stop at a grocery store before checking into your hotel for snacks, bottled water, and breakfast items. You’ll save money, time, and maybe even a few pounds.
No matter how interesting or exciting your destination, entertaining every member of the family is always a challenge. Planning ahead can help you avoid some of those dreaded complaints of boredom, but also help keep the entire family physically active every day. If you’re heading to the beach, bring gear for games like badminton, frisbee, or water balloon toss. Sign up in advance for planned activities, such as biking the boardwalk, tennis lessons, guided tours, or a scavenger hunt. Make it a goal to have at least one planned activity for the entire family per day.
While you may dread planning out yet another week of meals, researching restaurants in advance of your trip is a great way to find places that are healthy, affordable, and family-friendly. Steer clear of touristy establishments or buffets, and find eateries that offer local ingredients, fresh fish or meat, and vegetables your kids will eat. Create a list of restaurants with healthy options and stick it in your wallet. During vacation, let the kids choose off the list where to go each night. They’ll be making a healthy choice without even realizing it! The United States Department of Agriculture also highlights some important tips for eating healthy when you’re eating out:
- Order dishes that are steamed, grilled, or broiled instead of fried or sautéed.
- Order an item from the menu instead of heading for the “all-you-can-eat” buffet.
- Ask for whole-wheat bread for sandwiches.
- When choosing a beverage, ask for water or order fat-free milk or unsweetened tea.
Three words that will always get kids running: “Tag, you’re it!” When it comes to games like tag and hide-and-seek, the more the merrier. Let one of your child’s friends come along on your family vacation and you’ll see more impromptu games and activities, and less time in front of the TV or video games. Better yet, consider traveling with another family and encourage all of the adults to play along, too. According to Mayo Clinic, friendship can help enrich your life and improve your health.
If you need a vacation from planning activities for your kids, let someone else do it! Many family-oriented resorts offer programs just for the little ones with arts and crafts, sports, games, and more. Drop the kids off in the morning and devote the day to your own personal health and wellness. Get a spa treatment, go for a walk, attend a yoga class, or just sit by the pool and relish in the quiet.
Unleash your inner-child and do things outside of your comfort zone. It’s vacation after all! According to the Alzheimer’s Association, engaging intellectual activities and new experiences can help stimulate brain activity and improve brain health. Surprise your kids with something they would never expect, such as whitewater rafting or hip-hop dance lessons. The memories will be well worth the extra effort and you’ll return home reinvigorated and with lots of stories to tell.