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


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


By Kendra