Many Americans, having spent most of the year overeating and relatively inactive, decide to get in shape on their vacation. We have all seen them, middle aged, obese men or women, jogging along the beach or trudging up mountain slopes. Such sudden, catch-up exercise is both futile and dangerous.
While all efforts to exercise should be commended, conditioning programs should be gradual and sustained, not crammed into a week at your favorite resort. Attempts to stress an unprepared body will risk muscular injury, heat exhaustion or cardiovascular collapse; lifeguards, park rangers and ski patrol members see these self-induced emergencies on a regular basis.
For those who are truly committed to improving their physical health, dietary and exercise regimens must be sustained throughout the year, should begin at a comfortable level and should be undertaken with reasonable expectations. Walking, biking and swimming are the best options for most deconditioned adults and allow a steady increase in distance and rate over time; of course, a reasonable, well-balanced diet is also essential. Waiting for that vacation to whip yourself into shape is a common but ill-advised practice.