It’s that time of year again! School is out, warm weather abounds, and families flock to various vacation spots. Many families choose the beach or a cruise, while others go on road trips, to Disney World, or other attractions. One thing that often suffers during these trips is nutrition and fitness. We become tempted to think that because we are on vacation, we can neglect our normally healthy diet, exercise, hydration, and sleep patterns. These 4 core principles are essential to maintaining our health throughout the summer months and beyond.
If you are taking a trip this summer, pack healthy snacks to go along rather than junk foods that are full of processed sugars and fats. In addition to being better for you, they will help save you and your family money.
Some good examples of healthy snacks include:
• Dried fruits and vegetables
• Fresh fruits and vegetables
• Raw or roasted nuts
• Homemade trail mix
If you are going to be staying in a rental home or condo, go grocery shopping once you arrive so that you can prepare your own meals rather than eat out every meal. This will also save you money, as well as build your health while having fun. If you are taking previously prepared food with you when you leave your rental property, make sure you are able to keep it cool so that it doesn’t spoil. Food poisoning is a sure fire way to ruin any vacation. If you do go out for meals, choose healthier options such as lean meats/fish/poultry, steamed veggies, and rice.
Just because you will be out of town, that doesn’t give you a pass on moving your body. One of the laws of physics states that an object in motion tends to stay in motion while an object at rest tends to stay at rest, including the human body. Taking a week or two off from exercise makes it extremely hard to begin again once you return home and to your normal activities. You don’t have to do your normal routine, especially if you use specific equipment. However, getting in physical activity can be a fun part of the experience. Rather than drive, walk or bike short distances. Go hiking if you are in a location where this is feasible. Swim. Take a walk on the beach. Anything you can think of to get and keep your body moving. Additionally, if you are driving long distances, make sure to get out of the car and stretch your muscles and walk at least every 90 minutes to 2 hours. Driving or sitting in a car for long periods puts stress on the muscles and joints due to immobility.
This is also important to staying healthy. It is easy to get so wrapped up in activities that you forget to drink water, especially if you are swimming or playing in/around water. Heat combined with exercise can leave you dehydrated, which you may not notice when you are in and out of water because you do not realize that you are sweating. The best thing to drink is water, or coconut water, rather than sugary drinks or alcohol, which can dehydrate you further.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
• Dry, sticky mouth
• Decreased urinary output
• Dark, concentrated urine
Minor dehydration can be remedied by drinking water. More severe dehydration requires evaluation and treatment by a healthcare professional. Symptoms of severe dehydration include rapid heart rate, inability to produce sweat or tears, weakness, fainting, breathing rapidly, or confusion. If you or a family member experience these symptoms, call 911 immediately, as this is a medical emergency.
You may be tempted to skip sleep while on vacation in order to take full advantage of all the activities you want to do. However, sleep is important to regenerate. During sleep your body releases human growth hormone, which helps to restore and repair our bodies. In children, it helps them grow and mature. In adults, it helps maintain healthy cells and tissues. Also, sticking to a similar sleep schedule on vacation will make it easier to readjust to normal activities when you return home.
So, enjoy your summer vacations, make a lot memories, and stay healthy while you do!
By: Rachel Clark, RN, BSN