10 gear-free ways to exercise while traveling

Nothing puts a damper on travel quite like a bum back or screaming sciatica.

Sitting for long stretches in a car or on a plane, lifting luggage, and slumbering in different beds — not to mention diving into new adventures — can spell trouble for even the most dependable spine.

“Travelers will be well-served by exercising,” says physical therapist Robert Gillanders. “On vacation, you may not be able to do exactly what you do at home, but mixing up your routine is good — and often invigorating.”

It’s easy to pack running shoes or goggles and a swimsuit for a vacation workout. When I have space in the car, I bring my bike, but even when I arrive sans wheels, most cities now have bike-share programs that make it a cinch to get moving. If I’m traveling light, I toss a resistance band and jump rope in my bag.

To keep active during a road trip, every time you stop for gas or a bathroom break, do some jumping jacks or pushups.
– Thinkstock photo

One way to get your heart pumping on a road trip is to knock out one push-up or jumping jack for every dollar of gas when you fill up.

I recently asked Gillanders, a marathon runner and spokesman for the American Physical Therapy Association, to recommend some simple, gear-free ways to stay fit during travel.

When you begin looking at your travel destination as a big playground, you’ll find countless spots to move your body: curbs for calf raises, jungle gyms for pullups, boardwalks for lunges and walls for — what else? — wall sits.

In this work out, Gillanders recommends performing each exercise for 15 to 60 seconds, depending on your fitness level, and cycling through the entire set. If you’re feeling good, try it twice or thrice.

Remember to engage your core, breathe and focus on your form. “I would rather see five good reps,” Gillanders quipped after watching my (conceivably sloppy) push-ups, “than 15…

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