10 Tips for Staying Fit at an All-Inclusive Resort

Relax. Really. You're on vacation, after all. Here are some ways to feel good about keeping your fitness goals even when visiting an all-inclusive resort.

By: Paul Cox

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Approach the Buffet Wisely

Food is typically everywhere at all-inclusive resorts. It's super hard to say no to an endless supply of calorie-heavy treats. But, you don't have to deny yourself buffet bliss all vacation long. "You can have a couple days where you can say 'I'm on vacation and I'm going to eat whatever I want to,'" says Atlanta-based personal trainer and nutrition coach Johnnie Perry. "But the other three days my diet is going to consist of healthy choices — protein, vegetables, fruits and nuts." Perry suggests starting your day with a breakfast of protein and fats (like fresh fish). "You'll have more energy and be able to enjoy what's going on during the day."

Take a Class

Until recently, I had been too shy to try one of those morning pool workouts — the ones where the most flexible member of the resort staff leads a group of vacationers in a routine of stretching and strength exercises under the stares of a lounging pool crowd. But then I took the plunge, literally, and found out that if I wasn't actually closer to being able to touch the floor with my palms afterward, at least I jumpstarted my day with some early exercise. And I made some new friends.

Take Morning Walks

If you're a runner, you know it can be hard to turn out a quick mile running through a bustling resort. Instead, kick the speed down a notch and enjoy a morning walk before breakfast. "Walking at a steady pace helps your body break into its fat stores," says Perry. "Obviously, walking for five to 10 minutes won't burn a ton of calories. However, if you build that up to three to six hours during the week of vacation, that's a recipe for burning some excess fat without stress on the body."

Bring the Gym With You

If your destination doesn't offer a full gym, or one with equipment you're not used to, then pack your own gym. A set of resistance bands is a good place to start. Watch this video for tips on how to pack a well-rounded travel fit kit.

Run on the Beach

Pavement pounders, use a week at the resort to take a break from running on hard surfaces. Running on the uneven beach can help train some of the stabilizer muscles in your feet, ankles and knees. Plus, running in the sand takes a little more effort than running on firm pavement, so you'll burn more calories during your run.

Drink Water Along With Your Cocktails

Have a glass of water with every alcoholic drink. Alcohol dehydrates the body. When you dehydrate the body, it wants electrolytes, in the form of sodium, which leads to bad food choices like fries.

Ride a Bike

The resort's stable of bikes might not be as well-maintained as yours at home. But, some resorts will offer guided tours that are safe (no cars whizzing by), and what could be better than seeing paradise by bike? And this article from Penn State University explains why biking is a great, low-impact exercise choice for the whole family.

Try a New Sport

If you get bored lying by the pool, run down the beach and take out a kayak or a paddle board for 30 minutes. Most all-inclusive beach resorts include watersport rentals with your stay. Resort staff would make sure weather and water conditions are safe, so this week at the resort is a good time to try something new. And most resorts will happily help you make reservations for guided, active excursions like snorkeling or kayaking off the resort property.

Use the Resort Gym

If your fitness routine includes working out at your local gym, you may walk a few circles around the resort's fitness center trying to decide where to begin your workout. The resort's equipment almost certainly will be different, and some equipment (like fitness bands, for example) may be completely missing. During your vacation, think about modifying your routine with bodyweight exercises to hold you over until you get back to your local fitness center. Perry suggests getting in a full-body workout every other day, with each workout lasting 35-45 minutes.

Make It a Rest Week

Yes, that's right. Resting actually can help you build fitness. If you're feeling stressed and a bit worn out from your early-morning workout routine, look at a week of vacation as an opportunity to give your body and mind time to recover. This article from Bicycling makes the case that taking a week off from your workout routine is helpful in the long run. "Your body is not going to forget," says Perry. "It's vacation. You're supposed to enjoy yourself. One week off isn't going to hurt you."

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