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Staying fit in the city of sin...and laziness

Friday, July 10, 2009 Posted by Peter Janiszewski, PhD
Travis and I are often asked how we find the time to write blog posts on a regular basis. While we often shrug it off and say how it has just become part of our schedule, making regular blog posts on certain days requires some serious determination. Today (while on vacation) I am writing on location at Ceasar’s Palace on the strip in Las Vegas (I found some free WiFi to make this post possible). Although I brought with me a copy of a recent study that I was planning on discussing (yes, I am obsessed), after my first day of exploring the famous strip, I decided to discuss something different with the help of a photo diary.

Staying fit and eating healthy while on vacation or at a conference has become a recurring personal struggle. When at home I have a regular workout schedule, a gym membership, my regular running trails, biking paths, etc. I also have complete control of what I eat, when I eat, etc. When I leave my bubble in Kingston, it is always a challenge to maintain both my physical activity and dietary patterns.
Some destinations are a greater challenge than others.

Case in point: Las Vegas, Nevada in the peak of the summer.

The facts:

1. It has been over 40 degrees Celsius (the nightly lows have been around 28 degrees), with a relative humidity of 2 percent (the driest I have ever experienced) every day since arrival. To make things more interesting, there have also been some rather fierce hot winds which kick up dirt in your eyes and mouth and strip your body of moisture. Thus, performing any physical activity outside can only lead to dehydration and heat stroke.

2. While there is a gym at the hotel I am staying at, I can’t afford the daily $20 fee to use the facilities.

3. As will become obvious in the photos below – there are escalators EVERYWHERE in Vegas. In fact, it is often the only way to get from point A to point B – there are simply no stairs! Other times, even a flat walkway is mechanized (think airport walkways). Thus, even getting some decent steps in while exploring the city is made difficult.

The solution: being creative to stay active …. and by extension getting many confused looks from other tourists.

For example, when walked on backwards the escalators become great stepping machines while the flat walkways become gigantic treadmills.
When you can find stairs - take them - even if you are the only one doing so.

Hotel room furniture and luggage can be used to improvise a decent resistance training session.

Even when checking out popular tourist attractions such as the Hoover Dam you can always find a way to squeeze in a few reps of hanging leg raises to work on that six-pack (pictured below).

And don’t forget the casino – here’s an example of one of my favourite casino exercises – giant slot machine rows.
Lastly, we have been able to find a great grocery store nearby (Whole Foods) which allows us to eat the amount of fruit and veggies we are accustomed to (something which is rather difficult while dining exclusively at restaurants – especially when visiting places like Vegas, Phoenix, and New Orleans - from recent experience). This store has a great buffet style section with a bunch of relatively healthy options made to go – i.e. a great salad bar. For the past two nights, rather than blowing a bunch of money on predominantly deep-fried options, we have dined at the grocery store. For breakfast we have been eating plain yogurt with some granola as a substitute for our usual oatmeal. We also ensure to bring along some snacks when exploring – a couple bananas and a protein bar is my personal strategy. Having some snacks ready ensures than when hunger does strike I can: a) stave off the ‘hangries’ – the distasteful mood brought on by low blood sugar (I get cranky) and b) make a smart decision with regard to meal selection (when absolutely famished even McDonalds starts to look like a good dining option).

Next on the itinerary is a trip to the Grand Canyon - that should be interesting given the current climate...


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2 Response to "Staying fit in the city of sin...and laziness"

  1. docvini Said,

    I am very familiar with the challenges of staying fit while traveling as is my husband. He's a frequent traveler. We travel often to Canada. We've found excellent exercises that don't require any equipment and use a lot of walking (even during layovers at airports) to get exercise in. It's a challenge but with an open mind it's get easy.

    Posted on July 10, 2009 at 4:37 PM

  2. Richard Eis Said,

    I remember i put more (fat) weight on in 2 weeks in america than i put on (muscle) in about 2 months of workouts. And that was trying to eat well.
    I was too skinny at the time so i was ecstatic...enthusiasm may vary per person though ;)

    Posted on July 13, 2009 at 8:25 AM


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We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.


The opinions expressed here belong only to Peter and Travis and do not reflect the views of any organization. Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.

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