SOUND MIND, SOUND BODY: Pack your bags without packing on pounds

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You have finally gotten into the habit of a regular exercise program and now it is time for your vacation.

Does this mean that you have to put your workout on hold? No, you can travel and still maintain your fitness program. Your traveling workout program does not have to be exactly the same or as long to reap the benefits.

With some planning and research you can put together a program to keep you healthy while you're out of town.

Most hotels have a swimming pool and at least a small fitness room, with a couple pieces of cardio equipment (bike, treadmill or elliptical) and various sizes of dumbbells.

If they don't have a fitness facility on site, many hotels offer either free or discounted passes to local health clubs; be sure to ask about the fitness facilities or health club passes when making your reservations.

Also, if you are staying in a high rise hotel try taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

When I was in Hawaii a few years ago I was staying on the 20th floor and the elevator went out for several hours; what a great workout climbing up to and down from my room.

Many cities publish walking or biking route maps. Before leaving on your trip do a little research about what options might exist. Other great local resources include the local running or bicycle stores, which can usually steer you in the right direction for a great workout.

Many times the concierge at your hotel can also provide you with a city map, plan out what attractions you want to see and determine which ones you can walk to.

If you just want to get in a quick workout from the comfort of your hotel room you can bring along a jump rope and an exercise tube.

These are two inexpensive and versatile pieces of equipment that take up little room and can easily be packed into a suitcase. You can usually find both of these items at a local sporting goods store.

With these two pieces of equipment you can perform an interval workout alternating between jumping rope and strength exercises. If you are not sure what exercises you can do with an exercise tube, you can ask a personal trainer at your local health club to show you a few quick and easy exercises.

Just like your regular fitness program try to set up a specific time each day to get in quick workout.

Make the most of your vacation by getting out and exploring what the city has to offer. The next time you go on vacation don't forget to pack a pair of athletic shoes and workout clothes, with a little planning you can come back from vacation feeling just as healthy as you did when you left.

Valerie Rankin has been working in the fitness industry since 1998. She has a bachelor's degree in health education and fitness promotion. She is the group exercise director at the YMCA where she manages and instructs fitness classes.

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