Wrapping up a career, finding new — or reigniting old — hobbies, planning for the next phase of relaxation and adventure: Retirement can be a tremendous transition. And one that is different for everyone.
“When I retired, I heard your 60s are called your ‘go-go years.’ You have to get going and do things and travel,” says Pat Maloney, age 70, Life Time member in Lakeville, Minn. “When you get into your 70s, I heard it’s your ‘slow-go years.’ You slow down a bit, but you still want to keep going. Then, your 80s and 90s are your ‘no-go years.’ Well, I want to push the envelope and extend my go-go years.”
Traveling is one of the most popular ways to spend the newfound free time that comes with retirement. Checking destinations off your bucket list, exploring new cultures, and soaking up warmer weather are just a few of the many benefits people often enjoy.
“One of my goals is to travel with my daughters,” says Pat Miscavige, age 69, another Life Time member in Lakeville, Minn. “I’m going to try to get to Alaska and I have many other destinations on my list.”
Traveling, though, is an activity that requires our bodies to be in a condition to withstand demands like walking long distances, changing time zones, sitting for prolonged periods, extended sight-seeing, and dealing with other common travel woes. So, setting ourselves up for success is the key to actually making the most of our adventures.
Tina Kuharski, an ARORA-certified personal trainer, nutrition coach, and Pilates instructor at Life Time in Maple Grove, Minn., helps members like Maloney and Miscavige work to reach their goals and be able to continue doing the activities they love.
If you have travel ambitions, Kuharski offers advice around how to prepare for a trip and tips on sustaining your health as you trek from place to place — whether by plane, train, or automobile.
Training for Your Trip
Chances are your travels will require you to take trips via various transport types, and there may be increased amounts of walking or hiking once you arrive at your destination. Regular workouts can help ease aches and pains, improve your flexibility, and maintain your mobility so your travel experiences are easier and more enjoyable.
“Training for a trip will look different depending on the place you’re going and the activities you plan on doing,” says Kuharski. “If you’re working with a trainer, tell them about your plans and they’ll help you choose the right exercises to support your body for that experience.”
Kuharski gives a few examples of how she would help a client train for various vacation types.
“Hiking trips often involve elevation, so I recommend mixing in some inclined treadmill workouts to your routine. Wearing a backpack while on the treadmill can help mimic the conditions on a hike. Depending on your fitness level, you may need to work on increasing your walking speed and stamina to keep up with a group if you’re doing tours or activities with others. In addition to treadmill work, you’ll want to focus on strength training your lower body.
“If your trip involves kayaking or canoeing,” she continues, “then upper-body strength training is key, along with time on the rower or ski erg. And of course, core exercises are an important part of any training program for better balance and stability.” (Learn more: “Workouts to Train Your Body for Outdoor Adventures”)
Staying Healthy on the Road
Kuharski also emphasizes the importance of taking care of your body once you’re out and about.
“If your trip is more about relaxing, make sure you’re still getting some healthy movement in each day,” Kuharski says. “Resistance bands are great travel companions. They are light, can easily fit into a small bag or suitcase, and can be used for full-body workouts or stretches. ARORA trainers can also provide workouts via our Life Time Digital app that are quick and easy to follow.” (Try it out: “The Resistance-Band Workout”)
If your trip involves long legs of travel, a little movement and stretching every few hours is essential to keeping your muscles from tightening up.
“Get out and walk every few hours when you’re driving or riding in a car,” suggests Kuharski. “I also advise this for any type of travel where there’s extended sitting, such as on a plane or train.” (Learn more: “Tips for a Healthy Road Trip”)
Vacations are about trying new things — like local cuisine — and often include indulging in treats. But to feel your best, avoid going overboard and keep up with your regular nutrition and hydration goals.
“To stay hydrated, I recommend a daily intake of half of your body weight in ounces of water, especially on travel days” says Kuharski. “If you’re traveling by air, it’s recommended that you drink eight ounces of water for every hour of your flight as the low humidity levels on a plane can be dehydrating. Bring a reusable water bottle to refill at the airport and throughout your trip.”
Kuharski has several go-to travel snacks that are easy to pack and can help you avoid relying on less-than-ideal convenience options:
- Cheese sticks
- Bell peppers with hummus
- Roasted chickpeas
- Greek yogurt (look for 6 grams of sugar or less in the serving size)
- Kale chips
- Protein shakes
- Pumpkin seeds
Kuharski also warns against consuming too much sodium while you’re traveling.
“Trips that involve extended periods of sitting time can pose health concerns,” she says. Research links prolonged sitting in general to increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and unhealthy cholesterol levels. Overconsuming sodium can lead to high blood pressure which adds to your risks. To avoid this, shoot for less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day.” (Learn more: “A Guide to Eating Well When You’re Away From Home”)