4 ways to stay healthy on your summer vacation
Written By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by Kaiser Permanente
Lounging around a resort with all-inclusive food and drinks, sleeping in on a Tuesday, forgetting life’s daily stresses — these are just a few of the perks enjoyed on a summer vacation.
As the days get warmer and Coloradans start planning their summer trips, experts say it’s important to balance healthy habits with popular vacation indulgences while traveling. Here are a few ways to stay safe, healthy and fit while taking that summer trip.
- Don’t fall out of your exercise routine
The very definition of a vacation is that it’s a departure from our daily duties in life such as work, school or other hectic routines. But the benefits of exercise don’t stop just because your mind has gone into vacation mode.
“Planning and forethought can help us keep on track with regular exercise and healthy eating,” said Dr. Patricia Dietzgen, family medicine physician with Kaiser Permanente’s Frisco Medical Offices, adding that even a few minutes of exercise several times per day can add up.
Not only can exercise help you control your weight while on vacation, research shows it also improves mood, boosts energy and can help you sleep better.
“Maintain physical activity,” she said. “Walk as much as possible.”
- Allow yourself to indulge, but strike a balance
Grocery shopping while on a vacation is one way to stock up on healthier snacks, fruits and vegetables, Dietzgen said. Another tip: read restaurant menus ahead of time, if possible.
“Many restaurants have ingredient lists and calorie counts online,” she said. “When ordering foods, order baked rather than fried, keep dressings on the side to decrease calories, and ask for steamed vegetables rather than deep-fried.”
Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum, use the stairs as much as possible and pack exercise bands in your suitcase for hotel room exercise, she said.
“Eat regularly, do not skip meals,” she said. “Try not to make dinner the largest meal of the day.”
Eating 3,500 calories more than your body needs equals about a pound of extra weight. Dietzgen said an easy way to think about it is to imagine eating just 500 more calories per day for one week, which would make it very easy to gain that extra pound.
- Take precautions to prevent illness
Traveling in airports, train stations and other public areas equals inevitable contact with germs. It’s important to bring along hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipes to keep hands clean, Dietzgen said. It’s also important to wash off after water activities in pools, oceans, rivers or lakes.
“Routine hand-washing is best,” she said.
Mosquito-borne illnesses are also becoming more prevalent in tropical destinations. Zika virus and Dengue have occurred in the southern United States, and West Nile throughout the United States. Using an insect repellent with Deet is considered most effective, but repellents such as eucalyptus oil, IR3535 and methyl nonyl ketone, can also work for mosquito protection.
Visiting the Centers for Disease Control website before traveling to check for risks in particular regions is a good practice, Dietzgen said. It’s also wise to be up-to-date on routine immunizations.
- Protect yourself from the sun
Many vacations involve outdoor activities under powerful, harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone use water-resistant sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Wearing protective clothing and seeking shade, especially when the sun is strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., is another way to stay safe.
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