Staying Fit While on Vacation

It's a common problem every summer. Everyone loves going on vacation, but it's almost impossible to maintain the same workout routine as at home. Let's see how a break from your routine might effect your muscle mass.
Staying Fit While on Vacation

Written by Editorial Team

Last update: 26 May, 2023

One of the most common myths perpetuated by athletes is that if they stop training for a day or two, they will immediately lose muscles mass. Because of this (incorrect) idea, many people wonder: will I lose muscle mass if I go on vacation? Let’s see what science has to say.

What happens when you stop training

Most athletes know that when they train consistently, they see results. But the problems is, it’s easy to unconsciously become a bit obsessed with keeping your hard-earned gains.

There’s nothing wrong with letting your muscles rest for a couple days. Nor will you lose or gain in that time. That wouldn’t even happen if you took a whole month off. That being said, taking an extended vacation without any physical activity will probably make your next workout feel much harder, and you’re much more likely to have sore muscles after.

Remember, working out creates microscopic tears in the muscles, and repairing them causes the muscle to become stronger and physically larger. The new mass doesn’t just disappear, and although your muscles can get weaker, that process takes a lot of time. So, if your question is: “Will I lose muscle on vacation?” The answer is simple: No.

How to stay fit on vacation

Now, as we mentioned previously, returning to a strenuous workout routine after a long vacation can be very challenging. Really, it’s best to not completely stop training to make it easier to return to your normal workout routine…

Obviously we don’t mean going to the gym for two hours a day while on vacation. But there are a few simple things you can do to stay in shape, while still enjoying your destination. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Forget the elevator. If you’re in a hotel, apartment building, or something similar, forget the elevator and take the stairs. It’s a great leg workout, and activates your circulatory system.
  • Get in the water. Summer vacations are usually somewhere near water, whether it’s a beach, lake, or pool. But don’t just splash around and then jump in a hammock. Swim a lap or two, even if it’s just for five minutes. The important thing is to stay active.
  • Walk. As much as possible, forget public transport. You’ll not only see more of your destination, but walking is a great way to stay active.
  • Get active in the morning. We all know that a few crunches, push-ups, and squats only takes five or ten minutes. Why not do a few when you first get up? Even doing a simple workout a couple days a week can be very effective at maintaining fitness.
  • Run! If you’re vacationing near a beach, why not go for a run? Many people spend almost the entire day relaxing on the beach before heading back to the hotel and freshening up before a night out. No doubt you can find the time for a ten minute run! 
    Just a ten minute run can keep you in shape on vacation
  • Enjoy Nature. Even if your vacation destination is a city, you can no doubt find a park and go for a walk or similar activity. Even New York City has Central Park, where you could easily go for a walk for bike ride. All you need is a bit of imagination and motivation.

So relax, taking a vacation and getting away from the stress of everyday life will be nothing but beneficial for your body and mind. A couple days off won’t erase all your hard-earned gains, but using a couple of these tips and staying active will make your next workout much more comfortable.

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All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Gavanda S, Geisler S, Quitmann OJ, Bauhaus H, Schiffer T. Three Weeks of Detraining Does Not Decrease Muscle Thickness, Strength or Sport Performance in Adolescent Athletes. Int J Exerc Sci. 2020 May 1;13(6):633-644.
  • Lee S, Hong KS, Kim K. Effect of previous strength training episode and retraining on facilitation of skeletal muscle hypertrophy and contractile properties after long-term detraining in rats. J Exerc Rehabil. 2016 Apr 26;12(2):79-82.
  • Sartori R, Romanello V, Sandri M. Mechanisms of muscle atrophy and hypertrophy: implications in health and disease. Nat Commun. 2021 Jan 12;12(1):330.

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