Wellness when traveling now more than a trip to the gym

When we think of wellness when traveling, thoughts turn to the exercise facility at a hotel. Maybe a walk on a beach comes to mind or the extra exercise we might get naturally at a destination we visit. That’s a good place to start but hotels are taking that idea a step or two further, defining wellness as just one part of a healthier lifestyle.

“Wellness is about more than exercising and living a healthier lifestyle, it’s about a completely changed attitude toward the way most people live their daily lives – especially when they travel,” says Dan Marcec, managing editor of Hotel Interactive.

Pointing out that wellness involves a balance of mind, body and spirit that will deliver a better, richer quality of life, Kristi Bonsack, director of wellness at Longboat Key Club & Resort, notes that “the medical field is about helping to cure disease, where as wellness is about preventing it, and there’s a distinction. Being well is not about limiting life, but enhancing it.”

Hotels, resorts, cruise lines and other lodging options are doing more to encourage a healthy lifestyle. Wellness programs are easy to access for travelers and are timed to meet their needs. The focus is on encouraging and empowering guests to find a balance of fitness, nutrition, education and relaxation, far more than merely providing directions to where the on-site fitness center is located.”Wellness encompasses everything – your dining, leisure activities, sleeping habits, and even finding joyful things in your day,” says Bonsack.

Wellness when traveling is becoming more popular all the time. Now, in addition to checking room rates, directions to the hotel and availability on dates we want to travel, those planning a hotel stay are looking for wellness options. Questions like “Is there healthy food available on-site or close-by?” and “What programming is available that contributes to my wellness and will fit into my schedule?” are being asked and the answers are often hard to find. Still, there are resources available that can help.

  • Spafinder is dedicated to helping people find establishments, experiences and information that promote the well-being of body, mind and spirit and to inspire them to lead a healthy lifestyle.
  • The HealthyTravelNetwork has a mission to build a community of business travelers who are united by a common commitment to fitness and by a desire to be role models in helping America build a culture based on health and well-being.
  • Travel To Wellness is an online resource catering specifically to the growing number of wellness-minded travelers and the expanding spa and wellness travel niche.

Responding to an increasing demand, even cruise lines are focusing on wellness. Once the land of never-ending buffets and an almost guaranteed ten-pound weight gain after sailing, cruise lines are now offering more healthy lifestyle choices. Capitalizing on the all-inclusive nature of a cruise vacation, accessing healthy lifestyle choices is just as easy as bellying up to the Chocolate buffet.

In addition to the standard complement of exercise equipment found on most ships, now world-class rock-climbing walls, ice skating rinks, and full-size basketball courts are available at sea. Recently, Royal Caribbean invited guests to participate in the line’s first “Royal 5K St Maarten run”, Carnival Cruise Lines introduced SkyCourse, the cruise industry’s first-ever ropes course aboard Carnival Magic, and Princess Cruises got in the swing of things with the world’s first-ever marathon at sea. Aboard Celebrity Cruises ships, a rabidly popular Celebrity Life program features life-enhancing programs that provide a hands-on, active participation role for passengers as well as something to take back home that contributes to overall wellness.

“Wellness Travel is about traveling for the primary purpose of achieving, promoting or maintaining maximum health and a sense of well-being,” says TravelToWellness, encouraging us to be “proactive in discovering new ways to promote a healthier, less stressful lifestyle. It’s about finding balance in one’s life. It begins with intent.”

Flickr photo by mark sebastian

Travel fitness: Road trip fitness gear for families

Traveling cross-country with kids in tow can make fitness more difficult. You can’t leave your children to take a long run, or spend an hour in a gym. But you can pack a selection of family friendly items to keep everyone healthy on the road.

The following choices will not only provide a good workout, but they have the added bonus of building memories with your family.

Playground Pump
This application for your iPhone or iPod touch features 50 exercise cards designed for the playground. This is a fun way to get a full body work out while traveling. Make a pit stop at a playground and let the cards guide your routine. You are given 6 cards/exercises to perform using typical playground equipment during each workout: 2 upper body, 2 lower body and 2 abdominal cards equals a 30 minute session.

Fit deck Purchase a set or two of these exercise playing cards to carry on the road. Each 56 card fit deck has a different focus. Travel-friendly decks include body weight, yoga or the stretch deck. Each card features three fitness levels to accommodate different abilities. Shuffle and let your child become your trainer by pulling out the next exercise.Yoga paws. Traveling yoga enthusiasts will love these! Yoga paws are better than even the most travel friendly mat. Slip them on your hands and feet for solid support, padding and the ability to practice whenever and where ever you have the opportunity. Their small size allows you to carry them in your purse or glove compartment.

Jump ropes. Pack a jump rope for everyone in the family. There is no question that jumping rope provides excellent cardio. It is also a fun way to get a quick work out in with minimal space and time. Set up a timer or watch the clock while you perform intervals of high and low intensity for 15-20 minutes. You can also use the rope to perform stretches.

Sidewalk chalk. Pack a container of sidewalk chalk for quick exercise session where ever there happens to be concrete. Draw up a game of traditional game of hopscotch and play. The jumping and bending provides an excellent impromptu workout with the added bonus of being simply fun. Chalk can also be used to mark off lines for a series of suicide runs or pyramid drills. These intense conditioning exercises can even be done if you have little ones since you are basically running back and forth. Try to smile, and this exhausting exercise becomes entertainment for little ones!

Sylvie Branch is a Seed.com writer.