I started exercising and eating healthier 3 months ago and am really motivated and on a great schedule. I swim for 30 minutes 2-3 times a week, hike with elevation gain 2.2 miles 1-2 times a week (carrying my 24 pound dog for half of the hike), and do resistance/weight training with a personal trainer 2 times a week. My routine varies a little bit from week to week but i always work out for an hour 6 days a week. I have lost 21 pounds so far but have 50-60 more to go. I really want to stay on track with my exercise program both to keep losing weight and to maintain the fitness level I have worked so hard to achieve.

I am leaving for a trip to Glacier National Park next week with my husband and a friend, neither of whom work out regularly. The trip will be for 9 days. 2 days of travel. We plan to do 5 days of long hikes, but I am unsure of just how much hiking we will be able to do - this will depend on the others on the trip. I am not willing to do any hiking alone since there are grizzly bears in the park and I don't want to encounter one on my own. Also the weather is very unpredictable at this time of year - they are having thunderstorms right now, but it is supposed to clear up in a few days. I plan to bring a pack and some Nalgene water bottles that I can fill with water so that I can hike with some extra weight and get a better workout. Also my trainer is sending me with resistance bands and a detailed resistance training program. But my question is how do I make sure that I can get some serious cardio workouts even if it rains most of the time? I am very good with my diet, so the only thing I need to figure out is what to do on our non- hiking days (we will have two days off from hiking and I will already be taking the two travel days off from exercising). I have thought about running but had some trouble with my knees which I am working my way back from. Inflammation under the kneecap which I went to physical therapy for. And I think that I'd like to lose some more weight and do my knee exercises a little longer before I try running. Oh yeah, its probably already obvious, but i wont have access to a gym or any equipment. But i will bring my heart rate monitor. We will be staying in a cabin.

Any suggestions? I would really appreciate any advice. Thanks!

  • Great question @Craneflat, I'm wondering the same when I go to China
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Jun 18, 2011 at 20:36
  • 1
    Hi @Ivo, I'll make sure to post whatever I find here so you can use what you like. This should come in handy on many trips.
    – Craneflat
    Commented Jun 18, 2011 at 21:36
  • Note that Glacier is relatively high. How does it compare to the elevation where you live? If it is significantly higher you will find relatively light exercise to be more cardio-like than you are used to. Commented Sep 20, 2011 at 23:09

6 Answers 6


Two exercises from the school on short and intense cardio requiring just you and the floor:


Mountain Climbers

It's usually best to do intense cardio in intervals, meaning many short sets with short breaks between them, like sets of 20 seconds with 10 seconds of rest in between (Tabata), sets of 30 seconds with 30 to 60 seconds of rest, or something of the sort.

I would start (or at least try them) right now. If your muscles aren't prepared for this and you can't do more than two minutes, you won't be able to get much cardio out of it.

  • Thanks Waquo. These sound great. I have done both before. I'll make sure I get up to speed on both of them before I go. I haven't done burpees in a long time. But I still remember how tough they are. I'm going to look around for more exercises like this to add some variation and put some workout music on my iPhone. Thunderstorms are in the forecast for Thursday so we'll see how much hiking weather we get.
    – Craneflat
    Commented Jun 18, 2011 at 21:33

Enjoy the time off. Let your body rest. Take some pictures, enjoy the area. You'll be back into your routine afterwards. As long as you don't eat a lot of junk food, you'll be ok.

If you really want to, work your muscles instead: Do some push ups, sit ups. Climb trees, which will make you work different muscles that you didn't know you had.


Craneflat, I partially agree with @eych about resting. The body likes breaks. But I understand that you are on a roll and don’t want an interruption.

For indoors when it rains, bodyweight circuits can give you a good cardio workout. The problem with many bodyweight routines is that they involve some moves like jumps and lunges, that are hard on recovering knees as you mentioned. (Even Mountain Climbers may aggravate a knee problem going from full flexion to extension and you don’t want a knee flare up to mess with your hiking.)

Here is a bodyweight cardio circuit workout to give you an idea of alternating upper and lower body exercises as well as opposing muscles so that you rest one muscle group while exercising another. The video does have squats and lunges that are hard on the knees, but you can substitute with other bodyweight exercises. If you have enough resistance bands, or suspension bands like the TRX, you can do squats and lunges with some support to at least partially protect your knees.

Also, if you alternate your resistance band exercises using minimal breaks you can get a cardio interval workout. You can do 20 seconds on with 10 second rest intervals for the Tabata protocol as @Waquo mentioned. Here is an example of using the TRX with 40 second/20 second workouts.

You could also consider a pair of Nordic walking poles for your hiking. They will transfer some of the weight off of your knees, and you’ll use more of your core muscles, lats, abs etc. each time you plant the pole, turning your hiking into a full body workout.

I managed to get some good workouts on an Alaskan ferry doing functional exercises with my resistance bands attached to the berths, so you’ll do fine in a cabin with your bands and heart rate monitor. Have a fun vacation and congratulations on your progress, determination and commitment!


Check out the P90x Cardio, Cardio Kickboxing, Plyometrics, and Interval Workouts. I've linked to this in a lot of answers about home workouts (e.g. this question), and that's because it's such a great workout and you don't really need any equipment, so it's great for travel.

Another good program to try is SparkPeople. A lot of their videos are on YouTube, and they tend to be shorter than the P90x routines. There's a 10-minute jump start cardio, 10 minute cardio kickboxing, and there's a Cardio Series as well (here's Day 1).

These programs all incorporate a lot of jumping, some kickboxing, lunges, step-ups, and prison-cell moves.


I too have an issue with my knees. Not sure if jumping rope is too much impact on your knees but I find it works for me. Also, it's lightweight and fits nicely in a bag. It's the type of aerobic exercise that would allow you to take in a spectacular view as you get in a great workout. Jumping rope is also a rehabilitative exercise. Rehabilitative Benefits of Jumping Rope


Have you tried the Bodyrock workouts? Many require no equipment, are cardio intensive and all fairly short and efficient (perfect for while you're on the road).

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