Spring Training for Boomers

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By Donna Hull

Are you a boomer who likes to travel on a spring break? We’re not talking about taking the grandkids to Walt Disney World or competing for space on the sand with the college-aged crowd on a Cancun beach. A boomer spring break is more likely to include a trip to Kauai or exploring off-the-beaten path in Utah. If the activities involved will challenge your winter-weary body, get a head start with some spring training before leaving home.

Do you drink enough water in the winter? There’s a good chance that your body is dehydrated because it’s hard to remember to hydrate during cold weather. Drinking lots of water is essential, especially for flying long distances to that spring break destination. If a tropical location is your destination, hydrating beforehand helps you adjust to heat and humidity. And, don’t forget to drink water during the trip. Planning a hike in Kauai’s Waimea Canyon? Bring that water bottle.

How tight are your muscles? Sitting long periods of time in front of the computer or on the sofa watching TV tightens hamstrings, which can cause achy backs. And, let’s not forget about those slumped shoulders. Begin a daily stretching routine like the one suggested at SparkPeople (http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=1261) or practice the stretches demonstrated on the Mayo Clinic YouTube Channel (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5lbe9oZbpDs). But, don’t leave the stretches at home when you leave for the trip. Unobtrusive stretches on the plane will make the flight more comfortable. If you’re taking a spring break road trip, schedule stretching breaks along the way. Easing into a kayak on Utah’s San Juan River will be much easier if you’ve been practicing those daily stretches.

Will your spring break plans include hiking or perhaps some late season skiing? Train leg muscles to increase stamina before leaving home. Of course working out harder at the gym is an option but it won’t duplicate outside activity. Start walking the roads in your neighborhood. Will spring break take you to a higher altitude? At home, find a hill and walk up and down it repeatedly. Make it a game to see how many times you can walk the hill without stopping. The goal is to enjoy the trip rather than moaning about sore leg muscles, or even worse, missing the next day of fun because your body is too tired and sore to move.

Did you know that sitting decreases lung capacity? That’s right, when we sit, we breathe shallower, which shows up when we start challenging our bodies on an active trip. For every 30 to 45 minutes that you sit, spend 5 minutes practicing deep breathing exercises so that you won’t be the one huffing and puffing on the trail at Canyonlands National Park.

Accidents can’t always be avoided during travel but they’re less likely to happen if your body is in shape before leaving home. However, I’m living proof that spring training can’t protect you from everything. On a dream trip to Lucerne, Switzerland, I experienced health issues, which meant I saw the lovely city from a hospital room window.

Luckily, I belong to MedjetAssist. After reviewing my condition to make sure that I met transport criteria, Medjet arranged medical transfer to the hospital of my choice and brought my husband along with me. Remember, if you’re a Medjet member and hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, Medjet will arrange medical transfer to the hospital of your choice. And, there are no health restrictions under age 75, co-pays or cost limitations. You won’t see any additional bills for the transfer. I didn’t.

Donna L. Hull is a boomer travel and lifestyle authority who is exploring the world one activity at a time. Besides writing about active travel for boomers at My Itchy Travel Feet, The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Travel, she is also the travel columnist for My Well-Being Powered by Humana and writes about travel in western Montana for Make It Missoula. Donna is the author of My Itchy Travel Feet: Breathtaking Adventure Vacation Ideas.