Every time I return from a trip I am a couple of kilos heavier than when I left. The vacation binge eating and drinking has become so common that I take it as a necessary evil and an unavoidable aftermath of a holiday – and of the blogging life. So each two-week trip is followed by a month long diet where I try to burn the calories from travel.
I recently took it upon myself to find a way to avoid the constant yo-yoing weight gain and loss. But, as I believe that food or wine are perfectly valid reasons to visit a place and I love to indulge in fine-dining and local delicacies, I had to find a way to burn those vacation calories, rather than just avoid them. With a little bit of effort, you can combine holidaying and exploring a place with a healthy life, and have fun while doing it too. And if you can’t get out of bed and prefer to cuddle up between the sheets, there is something for you too! Here are a few ways to burn calories when traveling and doing touristy things. Next time you go on a trip, try to fit some of these in to burn calories while traveling so you can cram in that extra piece of cake, or so you have the ability to fit right back into your work clothes when back at the office.
- 1. Running – 350 calories per 30min
- 2. Diving – 250 calories per 30min
- 3. Kayaking – 220 calories per 30min
- 4. Swimming – 220 calories per 30min
- 5. Hiking – 220 calories per 30 min
- 6. Dancing – 200 calories per 30min
- 7. Skiing – 200 calories per 30min
- 8. Surfing – 200 calories per 30 min
- 9. Stand-up paddle boarding – 175 calories per 30min
- 10. Walking – 150 calories per 30min
- 11. Cycling – 125 calories per 30min
- 12. Jet-skiing – 75 calories per 30min
- 13. Getting all loved up between the sheets – 75 calories per 30min
1. Running – 350 calories per 30min
A lot of full time travel bloggers resort to running as their way to stay fit and burn calories when traveling. If you don’t have the luxury of a regular gym membership, running is free and easy and can be done pretty much anywhere. Unless of course you are on a safari, do not attempt venturing out into the wilderness without a guide or you may end up having to literally run for your life. Run on the beach or at sunrise/sunset for a feel good experience.
Calories burned: The calories you will burn depend on how fast and far you run and how much effort you put into, measured by your weight. Roughly speaking, a person weighing between 55 and 75 kilos will burn between 300-400 calories every 30min. You can find a calculator here.
Apps to help you track: There are hundreds of apps that you can use to track your running, from the free and easy, but more inaccurate, Pacer app that you can instal on your phone, to the very advanced trackers that you can wear on your wrist. For running, the best wearable is Garmin Fenix 5, which is also good for many other sports, but a FitBit as recommended by my running expert friend behind running portal Run Opinion. For those starting up, FitBit is a good, more affordable alternative. A great resource for trails around the world is Wikiloc which will help you pick a route and combine sightseeing with running. Choose the beach or the mountains for extra beautiful settings. Last but not least, Nike+Running is a nifty free app that helps track your workout through your phone and has lots of social media and motivational elements. It is one of the most downloaded apps from the app store.
What to wear: Both Adidas and Nike have started to put clear focus on running clothes. I particularly like their long-sleeve tops that have the little foldable wrist parts I recently discovered are to be pulled out and used as gloves. They were very handy this last Christmas back home. Whatever clothes you feel good in are great but here is a resource that will help you choose the best clothes for you depending on weather, conditions, intensity, etc.
2. Diving – 250 calories per 30min
Diving is actually a great way to burn calories without even realizing it. This is not just because of the effort required to get your equipment on and swimming against the current if the dive requires it but also because low temperatures for extended periods of time require our body to burn calories to stay warm. If you are cold-ish during your dive, that is good news for your cake intake. No wonder you feel hungry after a day’s dive, even if you don’t feel like you did any exercise.
Calories burned: When you go on a typical 2-tank dive day you can easily burn 600-800 calories. If it is a shore dive, which requires you to walk with your full equipment on, then add 30% more. All in all, you can tuck into those beers and fries while looking at your diving photos with the peace of mind of having worked them out. You can use this calculator to estimate your calories burned, although it does not account for the effort or the temperature so up the numbers in both those cases.
Apps to help you track: Apart from the dive computer that you will strap on your wrist, Dive Log app will help you track your dives online. The Garmin Fenix 5 will track your activity under water, the temperature and your movement so it is great to get all the info for that. Get the Fenix 5S for women as it is a bit smaller if in exchange for a shorter battery life. Review of the new Fenix 5 here.
What to wear: If you are like me, you will need a hat to make sure your head does not freeze under water, of course, I am the only one who needs that, so you might be cooking if you do. My friends laugh that I always ask for a full wet suit when I dive in the tropics. I won’t give advice on diving clothing but the usual wet suit, gloves if you plan to wreck dive or the like, and proper fins are all essential.
3. Kayaking – 220 calories per 30min
Kayaking is a great upper body exercise. You thought that because you were gliding on the water you would not be doing any exercise and this would be a pleasant “watch the world go by” activity. But 5min into the excursion you quickly realize that you should have shared that kayak with your loved one, get them to do all the work. But it’s too late. You can kayak between the mountains or by the beach, in the sea or a river, so it is a very versatile activity.
Calories burned: Here, your weight will be a key determining factor as you are actually moving your body along the water with your upper body strength. Someone like me, weighing just 55kg will burn 225 calories an hour whereas an 85kg man could burn up to 400 calories in half an hour. You can use this calculator.
Apps to help you track: Just use the online calculator, it is pretty useful. But don’t cheat with the time. If you are kayaking through mangroves and regularly taking breaks so you end up being longer than the strokes actually taken, adjust the time accordingly. Wikiloc also offers kayaking routes, although you are more likely to rent them from the hotel and take them around the area. The same wearables (Garmin Fenix 5, Fitbit) as for the rest of the activities also work well although you probably wouldn’t buy them just for kayaking.
What to wear: The most important piece of clothing to wear while kayaking is a rash guard to protect you from the sun, the ones that incorporate a bikini bottom are great, like this long-sleeve floral print one. You don’t want to end up with burned shoulders or strange sun marks. The next important item is proper sunscreen and I love the Biore face SPF50 which is fantastic, durable, can be worn under make up and is not sticky at all, once you put it on you forget its there, no shiny wet finish. And lastly, a good cap to protect your head from the sun.
4. Swimming – 220 calories per 30min
Another, often free, option if you are staying near the sea or in a place with a swimming pool. Swimming is a great exercise as it uses the entire body and it is good for everyone, even to calm the mind. Best of all, you don’t (visibly) sweat and the equipment required is very light. Bonus! You may even get a tan.
Calories burned: Swimming burns a lot of calories. A leisurely swim (we are not here to swim a race!), can burn up to 220 calories every 30min so you won’t even have to take a lot of time off. That is the equivalent of a glass of wine and about 25 roasted peanuts, so go on, earn that aperitif! You can calculate the exact calories depending on the type of stroke here.
What to wear: If you are going swimming just for the exercise or there is no sun, by all means wear some of the more supportive swimming costumes. If the sun is out and you are going for a swim in between margaritas, I would suggest making sure you don’t wear a bikini top that will leave strange marks. I’ve had them and had to forget about strapless and open back dresses for a while. Don’t forget to pack a pair of swimming goggles, public pools are filled with awful chemicals! And if you are looking for a great workout and for some poolside fun, get one of these mermaid tails!
5. Hiking – 220 calories per 30 min
One of the nicest and most pleasant ways to discover a place is by going hiking. Being in nature releases lots of feel good hormones and the fresh air will make you feel purified. It is also a great way to get to outlook points from where the view is panoramic. And you may event learn a thing or two about the specific wildlife in the place you are visiting.
Calories burned: The calories you will burn hiking depend on many factors. Beyond the usual weight and duration, the terrain, the incline, even the weight you might be carrying on your back, all affect the calories burned hiking. There is a handy calculator here and a table with some approximate amounts here. Bear in mind that hiking uphill and carrying a weight all have a dramatic impact on the result.
Apps to help you track: The same wearables and apps that are used for running and walking, FitBit and Garmin, are good for hiking. So is Wikiloc, full of trails and ideas on places to hike including routes and maps. Pacer is also good enough, as it can estimate the floors climbed too. No excuses!
What to wear: Hiking requires proper clothing, especially shoes. I am not a big fan of overdoing it; no need to wear high trekking boots when you are just as good wearing trainers, but do not wear flip flops to trek through the jungle. You can also go for the trekking look, in khaki colours, safari style.
6. Dancing – 200 calories per 30min
You thought going to the club was bad for you? Actually, if you slow down on the drinking and up your dancing, nightlife could be a great calorie burner. Or better yet, join one of the early morning rave parties, started by Morning Glory that have been spreading across the world since 2013, before going to work – guaranteed mood booster, especially on a Monday!
Calories burned: As there are many different kinds of dancing it will depend very much on how much you move, how much you shake it and on how much twerking there is involved. Obviously, the more parts of your body and the faster you move them the more calories you could burn. If you are going all in and shaking that butt like Beyonce then you would burn many more calories than if you are gliding on a Waltz. For an experienced party goer, about 200 calories every 30min is reasonable. Bear in mind the side effect: While you are dancing, you can’t be drinking! More calories for that late night ice cream room service.
Apps to help you track: This is a tricky one and you can only really track how much you are burning if you jump around the dance floor. A Fitbit or Garmin Fenix 5 will do it too, but do you really want to wear that on a night out? For a calculator of the calories burned in the different types of dancing check this site.
7. Skiing – 200 calories per 30min
Skiing is a good exercise because it works a lot of the muscles in your body. It also give you a good tan, unless you are like me and end up looking like a reverse raccoon with white eyes and dark face. Wear sunscreen and small sunglasses people! What makes skiing even greater is that you won’t be doing it just for an hour.
Calories burned: Nobody spends a small fortune for a skiing holiday in the Alps to ski for an hour a day. You will more likely spend 2-3h actually skiing downhill in those perfect slopes so that raclette is well justified after you’ve burned an extra 500-600 calories. And just to be sure, the combined effect of the skiing, the effort to get to and from the piste, and the extra cold (which helps burn calories) is assured to fend off the kilos, even if you indulge in tea, cake, chocolate, melted cheese and all the goodies a snow vacation is expected to provide in one of the luxury Alpine lodges. Just don’t go crazy or you will end up fatter than when you left, even despite the daily exercise. If you want to up your game, try cross-country skiing, that is an incredible workout and you can expect to burn up to 1,000 calories per hour.
Apps to help you track: You could download the Trace Snow app (Android, iOS) which will record what you do and tell you the calories and the profile of your workout. A Fitbit or Garmin Fenix 5 will do it too, especially as it has specific skiing profiles.
What to wear: Warm clothes, obviously. Everything you need to stay warm and all the ski equipment. Remember to bring gloves that are suitable for using your phone so you can make the most of the apps suggested.
8. Surfing – 200 calories per 30 min
Surfing, like paddle boarding, can be a fantastic all body workout and if you are a water person, you will enjoy yourself twice as much. Plus you can have fun with friends as well while waiting for the waves to roll in.
Calories burned: This is a controversial discussion. FitBit and other wearables estimate that surfing burns 150 calories an hour but most people would agree that this is an underestimation. The number of waves you catch, the temperature of the water, the size of the waves, the amount of paddling and the time waiting for waves all determine how much you will burn. On a good day, you could burn as much as 250 calories for a half hour workout.
Apps to help you track: The usual suspects. The Fitbit will do it too but note the underestimation above. The Garmin Fenix 5 has been designed to track the paddling and surfing profiles so it should be more accurate.
What to wear: I prefer bikinis that are fixed and supportive like those from Roxy, Rip Curl or Billabong, all of which specialise in surfing styles. Guys are easy, any board shorts like the ones from O’Neill will do. Wear a rash guard to avoid irritating your skin. The ones from O’Neill are proven and also protect you from the sun. You can go for a sexier option or for a wet suit type. If you are surfing in cold weather, a wet suit is a must.
9. Stand-up paddle boarding – 175 calories per 30min
SUP or Standup Paddle boarding has become a very popular activity and pretty much every resort has a few boards for guests to use. It looks like it should be easy, after all you are just standing up, but the core effort required to avoid falling in the water and the upper body strength to paddle are actually a really good whole body workout. You will find yourself working all the muscles in your body, including your hands, to paddle, your feet, to grab the board, and your abs and glutes to stay up.
Calories burned: As this is such a great cross-workout you will burn a lot of calories but you will work for it. It is a good exercise to do with someone and even one that you can combine with some sightseeing. If you are staying somewhere nice and they have paddle boards you can take out to explore a beach or bay. Expect to burn between 150 and 200 calories for half an hour.
Apps to help you track: Nothing really, just use the estimates provided by the site based on what you estimate your time and speed to be. Alternatively, the Fitbit will do it too but note the underestimation mentioned in the Surfing section. The Garmin Fenix 5 has been designed to track the stand up paddling profile so it should be more accurate.
What to wear: It is important to wear clothes that will not leave you strange sun marks but which also don’t get into strange places when you fall off, if you are starting out as a beginner that is.
10. Walking – 150 calories per 30min
Walking is something you will for sure do while on holidays, unless you are a coach potato and went away to simply lay by the pool, sun tan and down mojitos. But if that is you, burning any calories is definitively not on the schedule and you should probably go back to reading your magazine.
Calories burned: Like with everything else in life, it depends. If you walk purposely and towards a place at a speed of 6km/h for an hour, you could burn 300 calories, but the truth is that we usually spend a lot of time standing and looking at something or simply strolling leisurely because we are there to take it all in. If that is the case and you walk at half the speed, then expect to burn half. Despite the low burn rate per hour, I usually walk for hours when I am on holidays, especially if I am visiting a city so the calories do pile up. You should consider skipping public transportation in favor of a walk and you will also get to see a place better. Want an ice cream? Walk to that famous gelato place and earn it! You can calculate your exact burn rate here.
Apps to help you track: I will have to go with Pacer. Although the app can be pretty inaccurate as it tracks your steps based on the way your phone moves, it is the easiest most convenient way, just install it and forget. For higher accuracy, put your phone closer to your hips. But beware of thieves. Again, Wikiloc is a great resource if you just want to trek/walk for the exercise. The wearables mentioned previously are all good but probably not worth the investment if you are just going to walk.
What to wear: Anything comfortable, especially your shoes.
11. Cycling – 125 calories per 30min
Cycling tours or renting bicycles are common activities we do while traveling and they are a fun and easy way to burn more calories. Although a leisurely cycle will not burn a lot, it is better than sitting in a car being driven, so get your butt moving!
Calories burned: Here the pace and intensity of your cycling can drastically change how much you burn. If you are going to the hotel’s gym just for a workout, you can focus on what you’re doing, up the incline and the speed and burn up to 500 calories for a 20km/h speed with a mild incline. That will give you more bang for your time. Use this calculator.
Apps to help you track: The same Pacer can track cycling but most people will use the wearable devices which can estimate the speed and even the incline and give you a more accurate reading. Wikiloc is also a great resource for cycling and will give you all the details of a route.
What to wear: Anything is good but bear in mind that you should not wear clothes that can tangle in the wheels of the bike. If you are going for a strenuous cycle, consider wearing gym clothes, especially if it is hot and you will get sweaty.
12. Jet-skiing – 75 calories per 30min
You wouldn’t believe it, but taking out the boys for a spin in the water is actually a work out, even if you are in fact just sitting down. Holding up and not falling off requires quite a lot of strength, so go on, book that jet-ski tour, you now have an excuse to spend the money!
Calories burned: You should expect to burn about 150 calories for the typical hour long tours that you can find on offer at your hotel. You won’t be burning a ton, but it is better than sitting by the pool.
Apps to help you track: Both wearables mentioned in this post are waterproof so you could use them.
What to wear: There will be a lot of bouncing and splashing so you want to make sure not to expose your private parts, ehem, in one of the turns. Like with other water sports, I prefer bikinis that are fixed and supportive like those from Roxy, Rip Curl or Billabong, all of which specialise in surfing styles. Guys are easy, any board shorts like the ones from O’Neill will do.
13. Getting all loved up between the sheets – 75 calories per 30min
So none of the above options are a good enough reason to get you out of bed while on holidays. But I bet this one will do the trick, and you don’t even need to leave the sheets. Having sex can be a great workout, especially if you keep changing, and it will also help you work some parts of your body that you are unlikely to use otherwise.
Calories burned: There is a handy and detailed calculator that allows you to choose the position or type of sexual activity, the duration and the weight of you and your partner and then calculates the calories burned. It also gives you something even more interesting: the muscles that you will work out, so that you can incorporate that into your workout routine. For example, 30min of missionary sex will burn 40 calories for the woman and 130 for the man and work your glutes and your abs, in a much more fun way than doing crunches. Go on, try it out, we both know you want to.
Apps used to track: The calculator will do all the work for you, you just need to track the duration of each position
What to wear: Need we say more… Victoria Secret is always a good idea
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