It’s Summer Road Trip Time!
Time to ditch the books and hit the road.
This is the time to make memories with your friends that will last a lifetime.
but what about your health? I know…that’s the last thing you’re thinking about as you’re rolling through the desert on the way to those picture-perfect beaches in Cali.
You don’t care what’s in the flatbread you just bought from the Tanque Verde flea market outside Tucson. It’s good, it’s authentic, and you just can’t get it back home on the east coast.
So forget your diet. I’m not even going to go there with this post. You’re on vacation after all!
Cramped Cars and Long Drives
Let’s talk about something else. Let’s talk fitness. Because you might not want to skip dessert at the Cliff Dweller’s Restaurant, but spending 16 hours in your buddy’s used Honda Civic is enough to make anyone crave a good stretch and a light jog before dinner.
Trust me, I know just how cramped it gets. The struggle is real! So, let’s start with some stretching tips you can use at gas stations and rest stops along the way first.
The Best Stretches for Road Trip Pit Stops
Prolonged periods of sitting reduce circulation and can make your muscles tense and cramped. Plus, the temptation to stay less than hydrated is real. After all, no one wants to be the first one to ask for another pit stop! No, even if everyone else is thinking it, you’re the one that caused another delay.
Combined, these scenarios are really taxing on your health. So be sure to stretch at every stop and drink fluids. Here’s some basic stretches you can do without getting too many odd stares from creepy truckers.
<insert cheesy horror movie reference here>
1 – Calf Stretch:
If you’re not drinking enough fluids, this is one of the first muscles to warn you by cramping up. Place both arms on the car like you’re about to get frisked by a cop. Okay, the truckers are probably wondering what the hell’s going on now, but go ahead and position yourself at a 45 degree angle leaning toward the car. Bend one knee and drive the opposite heel into the pavement placing a gentle stretch on that calf muscle. Hold for 45 seconds and then switch legs. Repeat 2-3 times per leg.
2. Lower Back Stretch:
The back seat of an economy car with bad shocks and struts just isn’t friendly to your lower back at all. After you’ve walked around and loosened up a bit, do 4-6 toe touches getting your hands as close to the tops of your shoes as possible without straining. Hold each stretch at least 30 seconds for full effect.
3. Quad Stretch:
Use the side of the car for support with one hand. With the other, you can carefully grab your ankle and pull one foot towards your glutes as far as you can go without straining or causing injury. Hold this position for a few times and be sure to alternate legs. Remember, symmetry is super important for any stretch. Both legs should have equal time holding the stretch.
If there’s a good spot with clean grass to sit on, you could also incorporate a hamstring stretch, but most pit stops aren’t going to be that clean generally so I didn’t include that one in the list.
Destination Time: Quick Exercises for the Hotel Room
If you’re a student on a budget, chances are you didn’t opt for the nice hotel with a full fitness center near the lobby. If that’s you, there’s a few cardio options for the hotel room. Just be sure you’re not disturbing anyone below you with the first two!
1 – Burpee: Hands down, this is the most intense workout you’ll get without equipment. Just doing 20 will wear most people completely out!
2 – Running in place: Just be sure you’re on a ground floor or doing this when most people are out and about instead of asleep.
3 – Planks: Get a decent total body workout that really shreds your abs.
4 – SWIM!: Even if they don’t have a workout room, most hotels have a pool big enough for laps.
5 – Use the Suitcase: If you want to get a little resistance training in, consider doing some lunges with a suitcase in each arm. You could also bench from the floor or hold a smaller bag while doing crunches. Get creative!
The Next Day
Be sure to chow down on some complimentary breakfast and drink lots of fluids. I can’t stress the importance of hydration enough. Chances are you’re traveling to parts of the country with different humidity and temperature levels. It can take a lot out of you before you know it. Opt for plenty of honeydew and watermelon at breakfast. Practically every hotel in the US will have those fruits and they can help you stay hydrated.
Have fun, stay safe, and be sure to take time for fitness on your next great American road trip! Cheers from GardenofLight