Taking time off for summer vacation is relaxing—but getting to your destination is another story. Long hours spent cramped in an airplane seat or stuck behind the wheel can leave you feeling sore, stiff, and sapped of energy, and that can make your vacation less enjoyable, explains Jenn Zerling, MS, a certified personal trainer and owner of JZFitness, a personal training and wellness company based in Los Angeles. Luckily there’s an energizing, calorie-burning solution: While you’re in transit, move your body whenever and wherever you can. The five simple moves below can be done in the airport, at a rest stop, or even while still in your seat. Crank one out every 20 minutes or so during your trip (and even add some music via your car radio or iPod, to make it more inspiring), and you’ll arrive ready and motivated for vacation fun.
1. On-the-Spot March
When you’re in a tight space and there’s no room to walk, marching in place for as little as 10 seconds at a time will give you a mini-cardio workout as well as increase your circulation and stretch your leg muscles, which in turn relieves tension in your lower back. To undo knots in your neck and shoulders, pump your arms at the same time, as if you were jogging.
2. Seated Torso Swirl
This exercise is perfect for when you’re stopped in traffic or on a plane with the seatbelt light still on: While sitting with your back straight and your arms and legs still, rotate your torso as many times as you can, as if you were spinning an invisible hula hoop. Aim for 10 swivels, and your lower back and abdominal muscles should feel noticeably looser.
3. Mini Sun Salutations
You’ll need a bit of wiggle room to do this version of the classic yoga pose: Stand up tall with your feet together, your elbows bent so your forearms are parallel to the floor, and your hands in prayer position. Sweep your arms over your head, and out to your sides making a large circle. Then press your palms back together and stretch up toward the sky. Tighten your stomach muscles and lift your toes up slightly, which will stretch your calves. Exhale and release back to starting position. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
4. Simple Quad Stretch
With your left hand on a wall or the back of a seat for balance, bend your right knee and grab your ankle with your right hand. Point your knee straight down toward the floor and hold for at least three seconds, so you feel a slow, deep stretch in your quadriceps muscle. When sitting or standing, quads get very tight, which can lead to lower back pain. This stretch, repeated twice on each side, will prevent that from happening.
5. Bent Arm Circles
Raise your heart rate and loosen up tight shoulders one at a time (or do both together if you have the space) with this super easy move: Bend your right elbow and place your right hand on the top of your right shoulder. Make 10 circles with that arm, starting out small and getting bigger if possible, and then go in reverse for another 10 before repeating on the other arm.