The Ultimate Guide to Staying Fit in Disney World
Don't let the happiest place on Earth become the unhealthiest place on Earth. Follow this guide to maintain your fitness in Disney World.
Every time I've visited Disney World, I've met some significant challenges to maintaining my fitness routine. Gone are the gyms I'm used to working out in, the supplements I usually take, and the food I'm used to eating. Time becomes an even more precious commodity in Disney, as every minute of every day is accounted for with fast passes, meals, and characters to meet. If you're a parent, the challenge is even more daunting. It's important to remember that while it may seem easy to set aside your own personal health and fitness while you're on vacation, this is a mistake.
Packing and Planning
As with any trip, you can give yourself a huge advantage before you even leave. Be sure to pack the right things to help you stay on track while you are visiting Disney World. I always keep in mind that staying at a Disney resort means I will not have access to a grocery store for the time I'm there.
Here's what to pack:
Jumping rope comes with a ton of benefits for travelers looking to stay fit and healthy while they're on the road. From the low cost to the small size, a jump rope can and should be in every traveler's bag. I never go on a vacation or a business trip without my jump rope. It's a your mobile cardio machine. Take it anywhere with you and get an incredible workout.
There are a ton of great healthy snack options to pack for a trip to Disney World, but I like to focus on protein bars. My go-to choice is RxBar. I usually pack at least two per day, one for "lunch" and another as a snack.
RxBar has developed an amazing protein bar that is made from only real food, tastes great and contains no unnatural processed garbage. You won't find ingredients here that you can't pronounce and have no idea what they are. These protein bars will make you feel great and keep you healthy on the go.
Recommended Flavor: Chocolate Sea Salt
Ingredients: Egg whites, almonds, cashews, dates, cacao, sea salt, natural chocolate flavor.
I like to focus on what nutrition my diet will be lacking in. Fresh fruits and vegetables are not easy to find in Disney World and it's very unlikely you're going to be consuming them while running around Magic Kingdom anyway. So how do we make sure we're getting the proper nutrients and vitamins we need? For starters, I always pack vitamins D and C when I travel.
I also pack vegetable powder packs. They contain all the nutrients you would get from vegetables and I can put them in a bottled water, shake it up, and get the good stuff in my system quickly.
Aside from packing, the most important part of planning for staying fit in Disney World is figuring out when you are going to have time to workout. For most people, days are planned out with little to no time to spare. Time is precious in Disney and no minute should go to waste when there's so much to do.
So when are you supposed to workout?
For me, workouts have to happen in the morning before breakfast, so that means waking up about an hour before everyone else. I would typically wake up around 7am, get my workout in, shower, and was ready for breakfast by 9:30. Not a bad way to start your day. I felt great, was full of energy, and had my "win" for the day. If you'd rather workout at the end of the day, do that. Want to squeeze in sets of push-ups, squats, or burpees spread out throughout the day? Do what works for you.
What you eat while in Disney is the basis for how you will feel during your trip and after you get home. No one expects you to deprive yourself while on vacation and that's fine. There's no need to do that anyway if you're remaining active. Here's how to make smart choices about your meals while still enjoying yourself in the parks.
Your first meal of the day is a great opportunity to load up on fuel to get you through the first half of your day. I would always eat my breakfast between 9 and 10am, after I finished my workout. Having my breakfast this late allowed me to get all the way to dinner without eating a big meal for lunch. Try to include lots of proteins and fats in your breakfast and choose less processed carbohydrates, like potatoes.
I always opted for scrambled eggs, bacon, and potatoes with black coffee. At roughly 500 calories and 40 grams of protein, it was the perfect way to start my day and energize me for a long day at Disney World without giving me the sluggish feel that pancakes and waffles do.
Lunch was always kept simple. You're probably going to be in the parks at lunchtime and it can be really easy to grab one of the many unhealthy foods available around Disney. Don't get tempted by the fries, pretzels, cotton candy, and soda. I always packed protein bars, mixed nuts, and dried fruits and made them my "lunch" for the day. Not only was I able to stay away from the junk food, I saved money by not spending on the overpriced food. I had tons of energy as I went from ride to ride (and tried to keep up) with my four year old. Drink a lot of water, too.
Believe it or not, it was actually easy to find healthy(ish) choices for dinner. Of course it depends on where you're eating. Dining at Disney World can range from food courts to fancy restaurants. The easy part was to know what NOT to eat. For me, that means choosing potatoes and rice over bread and pasta. Even easier was to know what TO eat. Try to pick a meal that includes plenty of vegetables and has proteins and fats to keep you full (think salmon, chicken, or steak). Yes, I said steak.
Here are some examples of tasty but healthy dinner meals in the parks and resorts:
Sweet and Sour Chicken with Vegetables and Jasmine Rice, Asian Wok Shop, The Land Pavilion at Epcot
Miso-glazed Salmon, Grand Floridian Cafe, Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
Bell & Evans Chicken Breast, The Hollywood Brown Derby, Hollywood Studios
Being in Disney World, by default, means a lot of walking. This puts you at an immediate advantage in terms of getting some physical activity. While this is great, it's also usually offset by our tendency to consume more food. And walking is good but let's be honest, it's not enough to keep someone in excellent physical condition. It's actually the bare minimum of what every person should be doing.
So here are a few options to help keep you on track to crush your fitness goals while visiting Disney World.
Disney World Resort Gyms
Nearly all of the resorts on Disney World offer fitness centers or health clubs. Most consist of what we've come to expect from a hotel gym: dumbbells, treadmills, and various cardio and resistance machines.
Here's what fitness-minded guests can expect at some of the deluxe resorts on Disney:
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort - 2 Health Clubs (both open 24 hours)
Grand Floridian Resort and Spa - Senses Spa and Health Club
Contemporary Resort - Olympiad Fitness Center
Disney's Yacht Club - Ship Shape Massage Salon Fitness
Polynesian Resort - Fitness center is not on property. Guests must use Senses Spa and Health Club at the Grand Floridian.
Hotel Room Workouts
Another great option is to workout right in your hotel room. Make it a part of your daily travel routine by beginning your day with your workout. All you need is some floor space and as little as ten minutes of your day to move your body around.
Use this 10-minute workout in your hotel room to keep yourself in great shape.
Do as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes:
This workout is so simple, yet incredibly effective if you put in the effort. The key thing to remember here is that you're racing the clock. You want to minimize rest during the ten minutes and do as many rounds as you possibly can before the time is up. Record your progress and strive to get better every time you perform the workout, even if it is just by a single repetition.
If you enjoy getting outside for a run or walk, Disney has got you covered with more than 16 miles of new running/walking trails. These trails and loops can be found in all four resort areas and provide guests with a great way to get outside and enjoy a leisurely walk or a fast-paced run.
Learn more about the different running trails here.
You can view maps here.
Disney also hosts many running events, including marathons, throughout the year and you can learn more about runDisney here.
Visiting Disney World should be an incredible time for you and your family. Don't neglect your health and fitness. Plan and pack appropriately before you leave. Set aside a few minutes every other day for a workout, even if it's right in your hotel room. Remember that eating healthy doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself.
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