Photo Of The Day: Morning Beach Run

morning beach run
pkorsmok, Flickr

As summer wraps up, many people are trying to squeeze one last beach vacation in before the water gets too cold and the kids go back to school. And with that “one last vacation” tends to come an air of extreme relaxation. Yet some get a sense of freedom from waking up early and getting their blood flowing with a quick jog down the shore.

Which do you prefer at the beach — strict kicking-back, or a mix of fitness and toes-in-the-sand?

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For Your Health, End The Layover Laziness

What do you do on layovers? Nap? Catch up on email? Mindlessly watch some sports without any rooting interest? Christopher Berger, a physiologist, has a better idea.

It’s simple. Stand up. Walk away from the gate. Heck, leave the premises if you have at least three or four hours. There’s no rule that says you have to spend the layover inside the airport. Baltimore has a fitness trail encircling the airport grounds (and it’s not the only one with a walking path). So what if it’s not the most scenic stroll of your life? “Anything is better than eating fast food and waiting for your flight to show,” Berger says.

Berger, chair of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Task Force on Healthy Air Travel, is on a mission against the sedentary airport lifestyle. He understands that people on vacation might want to chill; he’s not above vegging out in a gate area from time to time himself. But for frequent business travelers with a fitness regimen at home, falling out of the routine quickly takes a toll. “If you travel a lot, this is a big deal,” he says. “You can’t let yourself be that deconditioned. You have to have a plan if you travel at least once a week. It’s worth talking about.”A plan is as easy as packing a pair of lightweight walking shoes and taking a brisk stroll around the airport. Check out the public art, the chapel, the yoga room or services you might not expect to find, like medical clinics offering immunizations and air-sickness medicine. You might not need to see a doctor, but it’s interesting to explore.

Since 2007, Berger has done much of this himself conducting a study of fitness opportunities at every major U.S. hub airport. He has flown 488 times, including 100 cross-country trips. The research is complete, and he expects to release the findings this summer – and eventually convince airports to make it easier to burn calories on a layover without sprinting to catch a connecting flight.

The return of airport lockers would go a long way toward freeing travelers from the gate area. “Airports needs to be willing for you to drop off your bag.” he says. “But post-September 11, people don’t like unattended bags at airports.” And in the wake of the Boston bombings, Berger’s not expecting an attitude shift anytime soon. In the meantime, he recommends checking to see if your airline loyalty program babysits luggage.

If you can check bags and carry on just a backpack, you can become as mobile as Berger is on layovers. Unlike most travelers, he’s not paranoid about leaving the terminal if he has at least three hours (and he has never missed a flight when doing so), especially in cities with an airport light rail station. In Salt Lake City, you can get in a round of golf at a course adjacent to the airport.

Minneapolis’s airport is a favorite for a layover field trip. “Out of the airplane, you can be at the light rail in under 15 minutes, and that runs every 10 to 15 minutes. I’d say within 45 minutes you can be downtown. It’s totally walkable, flat, well laid out, pedestrian paths all over the place,” he says. “There are parks you can go to. Just lay in the sun, get some fresh air. Budget 45 minutes or so to get back. I’ve done it in three hours.”

He has a trick for a speedy return: Use the terminal likely to have the shortest TSA security line. Forget about the terminal with the airline that has a hub there. For instance, in Atlanta, don’t go through Delta’s terminal. Return through the one serving US Airways and Air Tran. “You can bet dollars to donuts that line won’t be as long,” Berger says. However, do your homework to make sure you can walk from your entry terminal to your gate. At Washington National, for instance, changing terminals can require a bus ride, negating the time savings.

Berger hopes airports will move in this direction for the sake of competition, if nothing else. And he believes the strategy is best suited for big airports in the middle of the country. “In West Coast or East Coast cities, no one changes planes except for international flights,” he says. “It doesn’t work as conceptually as it does at a place like Dallas or Denver or Atlanta.”

Don’t overlook full-service hotels near airports for fitness amenities, too, especially if it’s raining and you can’t go outside. Many offer day passes to their gym and swimming pool, Berger says, and are easily accessible by light rail or shuttle from the airport.

Simply bypassing the tram between terminals and walking – which isn’t always as far as you might imagine – marks baby steps toward breaking the habit of layover laziness.

“It’s not going to turn you into a marathon runner,” Berger says. “But you’re expending something in the way of calories.”

Via the New York Times

[Photo credits: Flickr users Dogpong and Moominmolly]

Photo Of The Day: Mountain Biking View

Phew! There are few views more rewarding than the ones that have been earned after a long run, hike or bike ride. It’s exactly what this group of mountain bikers, captured in today’s photo by Flickr user Kumukulanui, must be thinking right now. Taken right at sunset, the silhouetted poses of the exhausted riders create a striking visual against the fading orange and yellow glow of the sky.

Taken any great photos during your travels? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

Stay Fit On The Go: Easy Hotel Room Exercises

Life on the road can be rough on the body. Not only do travelers often find themselves eating fatty foods and sitting in cars or on planes for long periods of time, but we also fall victim to falling out of our normal workout routines.

Although the number of hotels featuring fitness centers is on the up and up, every accommodation option doesn’t have the convenience (and in many cases, travelers don’t necessarily want to utilize the gym). Stay fit on the road with this easy 25-minute hotel room workout that utilizes an object found in nearly every hotel room: a chair.

Warm Up
5 minutes
First things first, get those muscles ready by doing shoulder circles, 15-25 calf raises, and 25-50 jumping jacks. Do all these exercises without a break and you should get your blood flowing.

Workout
20 minutesLeg Squats: With a chair behind you (or not if you are experienced), stand with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your abs tight as you bed your knees and slowly squat toward the chair. Hover above the chair for a few seconds and then lift back up by extending your legs until your back to a standing position. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Lunges: Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step your right foot approximately two feet in front of you, lowering your hips while maintaining control and balance until both knees are bent at about 90-degree angles. Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle and your back knee doesn’t touch the floor. Keep the weight in your heels and push back up to the starting position. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Elevated Push Ups: Place your hands on the edge of the bed (let’s face it, nobody wants their face anywhere near hotel room carpet). Scoot your feet out until you are in a diagonal plank position and proceed to do traditional push ups. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Wall Climb: Place your hands flat against the wall with your arms straight, leaning your body at an angle with your right foot forward. Quickly bringing your left foot forward while simultaneously kicking your right foot back. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Chair Step: Set a straight-backed chair (without wheels) against the wall or door of your hotel room so the chair seat faces you. Step up on the seat one foot at a time and then step down. Repeat for 1-3 sets of 10 repetitions.

If this is not enough of a workout for you, do another round of these exercises. Keep in mind that this simple workout is not a replacement for heavy-duty sessions, but instead a way to stretch out and break a sweat in the privacy of your own hotel room. And take caution: all exercises are attempted at your own risk. Always consult a physician before beginning any physical activity.

[Flickr image via sldghmmr]

Fitness A Popular Travel Option Says Survey, Cruise Lines

fitnessFitness centers have been a standard amenity at hotels, resorts and on cruise ships for quite some time. Used or not, those facilities boast some of the latest equipment along with programs designed to maintain physical fitness on the road. Results of a new survey suggest a growing variety of reasons to work out while traveling, something cruise lines know all too well.

“Among those that exercise on vacation, 31% say their primary motivation is to maintain their fitness regimen,” says Travel Daily News reporting results of a TripAdvisor survey of 1,400 travelers. “A further 28% do so in order to avoid gaining weight, while the third most popular reason for exercising on holiday is to capitalize on having more free time to work out (14%).”

That’s no news to cruise lines that remain focused on adding healthy travel and fitness options. In an ongoing effort to move away from endless buffets where lifting a fork might be the only exercise their passengers engage in, things are changing. It’s those last two reasons, “avoiding weight gain” and “using free time,” that have cruise lines scrambling to add the latest features to ships.Carnival Breeze, the latest ship from Carnival Cruise Lines, features a SportSquare Sky Fitness Center with two ropes courses, a multi-purpose sports court for basketball, volleyball and soccer, a two-level mini-golf course, in addition to all the latest fitness equipment.

Passengers on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas can jog their morning mile against 360-degree ocean views from the ship’s Sport Deck running track. The line’s fleet-wide Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness neighborhood supports a healthy lifestyle, combining the latest in aesthetic skin treatments, traditional spa services and workout programs. Last year, Royal Caribbean invited guests to participate in the line’s first “Royal 5K St Maarten run,” now an annual event.

Under construction now for a June 2013 debut, Princess Cruises latest ship, Royal Princess will have features that directly reflect an increased interest in fitness by cruise passengers.

fitness“Many of our passengers are very active on vacation,” said Jan Swartz, executive vice president for Princess Cruises. “These new facilities will offer them state-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge classes to keep up – or even step up – their fitness routines at sea.”

To make that happen, Princess Cruises is adding a private aerobics studio that will host a selection of fitness classes, including TRX Suspension Training, MyRide indoor cycling, a Body Sculpt Boot Camp and Chi Ball Yoga.

Like other lines, Princess is also adding a top-deck sports court called Princess Sports Central, offering a collection of court games, lawn activities (they will have grass growing there), basketball, tennis, volleyball, badminton and a batting cage. Golfers will find a driving range facility, and a simulated laser shooting range offers a new onboard activity.

“While most Americans will spend at least some of their vacation relaxing, many now balance their fun with fitness, as TripAdvisor’s survey shows that a significant number of travelers also prioritize personal health on their trips,” said Brooke Ferencsik, director of communications at TripAdvisor.

Responding to the call, fitness experts are focusing on short, easy workouts designed with the traveler in mind, with or without fitness facilities available like this TRX suspension trainer that fits in a suitcase and provides a total-body workout:




[Photo: Princess Cruises]