Keeping Fit on Holiday: Chicago

Fit Family in the Windy City 

My family loves vacations. It’s easy for all those healthy lifestyle habits you’ve formed at home go right down the drain during your trip. With a family to watch out for, I have to think about more than just my own health and fitness. With our extended family coming to Chicago, here are some nifty tricks I’ve developed for maintaining everyone’s health,  many of which I’ve suggested to my family.


Research Fitness Opportunities 

A few minutes of searching online will yield information about any hiking trails, parks, bike trails and other great fitness opportunities near your destination. It’s ideal to wake up early and get your exercise routine out of the way so the rest of your plans don’t get in the way. Furthermore, take advantage of opportunities for incidental exercise. For instance, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or walk instead of driving. Incidental exercise is any significant physical activity you achieve while doing something else.


Get Your Sports Thrills 

No matter where you visit, there is always some unique and unusual sporting activity being offered. Get the most out of your vacation by trying one of them. The best thing about these sports is that they help make up for any lack of time spent working out. Some popular examples of these sports include rock climbing, mountain climbing, white-water rafting, hang-gliding, para-sailing and kayaking.

 Catch Some Zs 

Perhaps one of the best parts of being on vacation is the ability to sleep as much as you want. If you’ve been lacking sleep lately due to an overstuffed schedule, your vacation is the perfect chance to catch up. Research has shown that adequate sleep controls the hormones involved in appetite, preventing you from impulsively snacking.

One study in particular, which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, allowed a group of men 12 hours of sleep one night, but they weren’t allowed any sleep the next. After a substantial breakfast, the participants used 20 percent less calories than when they slept adequately. The participants continued to burn upward of five percent less calories throughout the day. When you combine this metabolic effect with diminished appetite control hormones, it’s easy to see how weight gain could follow.


Join the Local Food Movement 

If you start feeling a bit peckish while you’re out and about, don’t head for the first fast food restaurant you see. Instead, take the time to see if there’s a local food restaurant around. Here, you’re certain to find healthy and nutritious prepared meal options for the whole family. Besides helping to support local agriculture, you’re also getting more nutrients in your meal. Produce, meats and dairy that spend days or weeks in shipping lose a lot of their nutrients over that time, so they’re not as good for you. At local food restaurants, however, you get fresh, local, in-season foods that create some of the best dishes available.

If you’re counting calories, it’s all the more reason to eat local. Meals are typically prepared without drenching the food in a fatty, sugary sauce and dressing to make it taste good. Plus, fruits and veggies are often served steamed, fresh or otherwise gently cooked to help them reach their optimal flavor and texture while still preserving their nutritional value.

We’re all thrilled about our family coming to Chicago in a couple of months, but of course, my main priority is to make sure everyone is healthy. I also suggested they stay right in downtown Chicago, not only is it close to all the sites, but many hotels have great gyms. In many cases, healthy vacation habits involve having fun and eating good food, so it’s never too difficult to get everybody involved. Try out some of these tricks on your next family vacation, or come up with a few unique ones of your own.


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