Tag Archives: Rest Days

My Experience with (Mostly Not) Exercising on an Alaskan Cruise

Photo credit: Jim Schoch.

I’m still basking in the afterglow of the amazing Alaskan cruise I went on with my spouse and extended family earlier this month.

This was the first time any of us had been to Alaska before, so our vacation was filled with all sorts of firsts.  We spent one week sailing by glaciers, mountains, virgin forests, totem poles, and other beautiful sights.

Other than wishing I’d taken more photos during it, there isn’t a single thing I would have changed about that trip. It was wonderful to spend time with my parents, siblings, sister-in-law, and nephews again. We hadn’t all been together in the same place for three long years!

When we weren’t soaking in the hot tub, swimming, exploring the various ports of call or looking for whales, seals, and other wildlife bobbing past our ship, we ate meals together, played Dutch Blitz, attended various programs on the ship: nature and history lectures, cooking shows, poker tournaments, and more.

When I ordered food, I tried to strike a balance between eating a well-rounded diet and enjoying treats. There were some amazing sorbets on this cruise, and I tried to taste as many of them as I could. It’s not every day that a non-vegan restaurant has dairy-free desserts!

The one thing I didn’t do on this vacation was stick to my normal exercise routine. This is rare. Normally, the gym and running track are among the first places I explore when boarding a cruise ship. I like sticking to my fitness routine as much as possible when on vacation.

Why did I break that pattern this time?

  1. I’d caught a cold at the end of June and was still coughing when this trip began.
  2. I wanted to keep my daily schedule flexible.

Get-togethers with my side of the family happen rarely enough that I didn’t want to rush off from a leisurely breakfast or skip a last-time invitation so I could exercise. The fact that I was still feeling sick at first only gave me another reason to take it easy. With that being said, I wasn’t completely sedentary that week.

Taking the Stairs

As much as possible, I took the stairs instead of hopping on the elevator when we were on the ship that week. There were no specific goals here. If I was short on time or coughing a lot one day, I took the elevator without a second thought.

With that being said, walking up or down a few flights at a time can add up over the course of a day if you do it when it’s possible.

I take the stairs a few times a day here in Toronto. When I’m on a cruise, I can do dozens per day. It effectively doubles or triples the average number of staircases I walk on for that month, and most cruises only last about a week!

(No, this wasn’t the staircase that they had on board, although they both were wrap-around designs.  I forgot to photograph the real one while we were there, so I picked an eye-catching stock image photo of another staircase).

Walking Everywhere

While my cough limited how much brisk walking or other forms of exercise I felt up to doing, it didn’t stop me from walking at a slower pace.

When I’m home and feeling well, I try to log about 12,000 steps per day.  I accidentally met this goal on about half of the days of our trip.

Once I even made it to 16,000 steps! While most of that movement involved strolling instead of power walking, I was still pretty happy with how much gentle activity I was able to include in everything else that was going on.

It didn’t get my heart rate pumping as high as I’d normally try to get it, but that wasn’t a goal I was concerned about as I healed and spent time with the family.

A week off won’t mean much in the long run. I’m back to my normal weightlifting and cardio routines now and very glad I took the time to fully recover and make memories with my loved ones.

What do your fitness routines look like when you’re travelling? Do you try to stick to the same schedule? Do you take breaks from them?

 

Rest Days Aren’t Optional

It’s been a few weeks since I blogged about fitness. I stuck to my exercise routine pretty well during the holidays. (My diet, though, definitely had more treats included it than normal).

On a recent rest day, I thought about an experiment I did last summer that turned out to be a bad idea.

The Experiment 

You see, I wasn’t satisfied with my progress last summer. I wanted to grow stronger more quickly.

The idea I came up with was to work a different part of my body every day of the week without taking any days off. I thought I might be able to rest my arms while doing bodyweight and free weight exercises to strengthen my legs. If it was successful, it could have been a way for me to build muscle faster than I was currently doing.

It lasted about a week before I ended up pulling a muscle in my back and needing to take time off to recuperate. Luckily, it was a minor injury that only needed time to heal.

Spoiler alert: pulled muscles aren’t fun! Boy, was that a silly thing to do. Instead of growing stronger, I had to stop lifting weights altogether for a week or two while I healed.

Bodies Need to Rest

What I didn’t think about was the fact that weightlifting doesn’t only exercise the one set of muscles that you’re focusing on for a particular workout.

Your legs still need to keep you upright, and your core muscles still need to help you maintain the right form in order to prevent injury and to help you get the most out of your workout. Often your arms also still need to hold the weights or prop up a certain part of your body as well depending on what kind of routine you’re doing.

It is so important to give all of these muscle groups enough time to rest and recover. If one of them is injured or overworked, your entire body will feel the effects of that.

Minds Also Need to Rest

The other thing I noticed during my experience was how mentally tiring it was to lift weights every single day. It was a more subtle effect, but it is something that bothered me a little as I woke up every morning and realized that I needed to strengthen another part of my body.

One of the most interesting things about this effect was that it wasn’t something I’d expected to happen. I was prepared for the possibly that my body wouldn’t like this change for any number of reasons, but I never would have guessed that my mind would also find it difficult.

It turns out that rest days aren’t optional after all. Everyone needs them!