Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fitmouse: Top 8 Ways To Stay Active At WDW

One of the easiest ways to hijack a diet or fitness regimen is to go on vacation, and Walt Disney World happens to be the vacation capital of the world. There, with all its temptations (Zebra Domes, Dole Whips, Turkey Legs, Beach 'N Cream), it's particularly easy to lose control of your fitness goals - and because you're on vacation and having so much fun, sometimes you don't even feel guilty about it. But there's ways to mitigate the damage.

Behold: The dreaded but tempting Kitchen Sink
from Beaches 'N Cream

Making good choices the majority of the time while eating out is one way (side salads instead of fries, grilled chicken sandwich instead of that double bacon burger, fruit & cheese plate instead of ice cream, etc.). Admittedly, depending on where you are, choices are limited so this can be a challenge. Making good choices most of the time is possible though! Ask servers at restaurants to put dressings and sauces on the side. Ask for steamed veggies instead of sauteing them. There are many ways to custom fix your meals, especially at table service restaurants, in order to keep closer to your fitness goals.

Bringing snacks with you into the park is another way (take almonds, fruit and other healthy options in your backpack). Eating breakfast in your room (or at home if you're local) before you leave for the day is another. These can help your calorie intake - and your wallet too. In our December 20th article, The Frugal Mouse, we talk about a few healthy and inexpensive options that you can take advantage of by using - such as Larabars and Quaker Oats Weight Control oatmeal.

But we understand how tough this is. Without the benefit of having a full kitchen with a stocked pantry in your hotel room, it is very tough to eat "clean" while at WDW for 3 or 5 or 7 or more days - or even 1 day sometimes. Besides, most people want to let go a little when on a getaway at The Mouse. And nobody can blame them.

Mickey stayed active by helping the New York Yankees
to their 27th World Series Championship

One thing you can do, though, is include physical activity into your itinerary. This can be tough, because most days are chock-full and by the end you're dead tired and your feet are sore. But being active at WDW is possible, and it can be a lot of fun! Some of our family's best memories include active things we did at The Mouse. Here, we go over our top 8 ways to stay physically active while at Walt Disney World.

Yaaaarrrrrr! The newly refurbished pool at the Caribbean Beach Resort

8. Swimming
All WDW hotels have pools. Some are incredibly themed (Yacht & Beach Club, Poly, French Quarter), some are a little bland (All Star Sports, Fort Wilderness), but all are large and serve the purpose. Go ahead and take advantage while you're staying there. Of course there's the old strategy of heading to the resort in the early afternoon to take a dip to beat the heat. You can also use the pools at night to cap off the day. Any way you cut it, as long as you get in the water and swim around, you're doing something positive for your fitness.

7. Tennis
For those who love tennis, it is a great way to get your heart rate up, burn calories and have a lot of fun. Playing sports such as this is a great way to take away the tedium some people experience when working out in more conventional ways.

If you want to play some tennis, take into consideration that only the following resorts have courts: Yacht Club Resort, Beach Club Resort and Villas, Boardwalk Inn and Villas, Old Key West Resort, Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, and the Grand Floridan Resort. Remember too, that you have to bring your own equipment for all but the Grand Floridian (where they do have equipment for rent). Also, in order to use a court at a particular hotel, you have to be staying at that hotel. If you're staying at a resort that does not have courts, you can use the Grand Floridian's courts. Call 407.621.1991 for more information.

6. Volleyball
You might want to play volleyball for the same reason you'd want to play tennis - it's active and fun! Several resorts around The Mouse have sand courts: The Contemporary, The Yacht Club, The Beach Club and Villas, Coronado Springs and Old Key West resort. Jump around and get that heart rate going!

The marina at Caribbean Beach - paddleboats are among
the many options to choose from

5. Paddleboats
Paddleboats are offered at most resorts that borders a large body of water. These can be as leisurely as you want, or they can be a BIG leg workout! We've tried the paddleboats at Caribbean Beach Resort and had an AWESOME time. And in comparison to many rental items, these are very reasonable - last we saw, $6 per 1/2 hour - and it fits 4 people.

4. Fitness Centers
For those who are into more conventional workouts - free weights, machines and cardio equipment - many resorts offer fitness centers to get your fix. Ship Shape at The Yacht Club Resort comes to mind as does what has been said to be the largest on property: the fitness center at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa.

If you want to not feel guilty about what you eat afterward, hit the gym before anyone else in your family is up in the morning and get that workout in. Then go play volleyball with the kids later!

Quaint bridges are common around Fort Wilderness Campground.
A perfect place to take your bikes for a ride and be active.

3. Bike rides/surrey bikes
We can speak to how much fun it is to ride bikes on the trails around the massive Fort Wilderness Campgrounds (rent or bring your own). We can also speak to how much fun it is to rent a surrey bike at the Boardwalk and take that ride around Crescent Lake. Cycling is a great mix of a fun, recreational activity and a quality cardiovascular activity.

2. Run/walk the trails at resorts
Almost all resorts have walkways and trails that you can take advantage of by either using them to walk on or run. This is a perfect way to get acclimated with your resort so you know what it offers and also a great way to enjoy the scenery. Either get up early and tackle the trails before anyone is up, or take the whole family to enjoy the incredible theming.

The beautiful Village Lake at Downtown Disney at night.
Scenes like this make it easy to walk all around The Mouse.

1. Walk as often as possible
This is a biggie. Walking, all by itself, will not negate a 5,000 calorie day. So don't make the mistake of thinking that just because you walked around the 1.3 mile World Showcase Lagoon in 4 hours, it makes that Biergarten lunch go away. It won't. But it will help. And any amount of walking you'll do all day long will help your cause.

So if you're physically able, walk as much as humanly possible. If you're staying at the Contemporary, walk to the Magic Kingdom a couple of times instead of using the monorail. If you're staying at the French Quarter, take the walk up the Sassagoula River to Riverside and back. Park at West Side at Downtown Disney, walk all the way to the far reaches of Marketplace and back. Walk the stairs at the Grand Floridian instead of using the elevator. If you're in the front two parking lots at Epcot, Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios, walk instead of Tramming it to the front entrance.

It is possible to keep active at Walt Disney World. And in many cases, it can be a huge amount of fun. Take advantage of what the vacation capital of the world has to offer - and that's more than just food and rides!

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