Photo: fizkes/Shutterstock

Doing Yoga on Vacation Is More Stressful Than Theme Parks, a New Study Says

by Matthew Meltzer Oct 23, 2019

Beyond the fact that hip stretches can be a serious cause of anxiety for the flexibility-challenged, a new study also found that doing yoga on vacation can leave travelers more stressed than going to amusement parks.

That’s right. According to a recent survey from the fitness equipment review site FitRated, yoga ranked the highest of any vacation activity for leaving people feeling stressed after they got home. Its top spot was just ahead of the endless lines and $19 hamburgers at amusement parks and lagged way behind peaceful pastimes like hiking, fishing, and going to the beach.

Now it’s not like everyone who does a little chaturanga on the road goes home feeling like they need a vacation from their vacation. Only about 12 percent of the 1,001 employed people surveyed reported being stressed after doing yoga while away. Then again, it didn’t rank in the top 10 of activities that left people most relaxed, either. And it was one of only two activities that left over 10 percent of respondents stressed.

“I can’t really speak to why people thought this way,” said Corie Colton, who works on FitRated’s creative team, when asked why yoga, of all things, was the most stress-inducing vacation activity. “Yoga is often a stress reliever so maybe the results turned out like that because people turn to (yoga) to relieve their stress.”

That is, people driven to take yoga breaks during their vacation are probably already having stressful vacations. So the yoga isn’t so much the cause of the stress as a way of dealing with it.

Another explanation could be the stress involved with finding a place to do yoga. As anyone who’s ever Ubered to Orangetheory while traveling knows, finding fitness studios away from home can also be a source of anxiety. Locating a good studio, lining up its class schedule with your plans, and getting to and from the place all add more stress to a time that’s otherwise supposed to be peaceful.

“I do yoga so I can definitely speak to that,” said Colton. “When you go to a new studio, it’s stressful to get there on time, everything has to be in order with your paperwork. It’s another possible explanation.”

Of course, it wasn’t all vacation stressors in FitRated’s survey. It also looked at the activities people found most relaxing. That list was unsurprisingly topped by fishing (95 percent), camping (93.8 percent), and reading (93.1 percent). Exploring a new city also ranked highly, with 89.1 percent of respondents saying it left them feeling relaxed. It’s amazing what a GPS and a fleet of rideshares can do.

The stress of working out ultimately relaxes you

The study found that just over half of respondents had exercised on their last vacation and found 91 percent of those who did went home feeling relaxed. That’s compared to about 86% of those who didn’t exercise.

If you’re hellbent on keeping your workout routine on the road, you may want to think about going it alone. Solo travelers were far more likely to exercise on vacation as well, with 56.6 percent reporting working out compared to just over 40 percent for those traveling with families. One in five travelers said they were peer pressured into skipping the gym by a traveling companion.

The most popular place for getting exercise while traveling? Simply walking around a new city and getting the lay of the land. Somehow literally no one listed huffing through an amusement park in the height of summer as their favorite form of physical taxation. Though anyone who’s ever taken their shoes off after a long day at Disney knows it’s harder than half the world’s marathons.

While gyms or fitness studios were barely the fifth most popular spot for away-from-home activity, Colton still offered some advice for minimizing any potential exercise-induced stress.

“If you’re going to work out on vacation, make sure to do it in a way that will add to your relaxation,” she said. “Whether that means planning ahead to go to a new gym, or doing something that doesn’t involve a lot of preparation like going for a run along the beach, or bodyweight exercise in hotel room. The point of your trip is to relax and disconnect, so don’t let any kind of exercise add to your stress.”

What she’s saying is, if your hips just don’t get as far down as they used to, maybe opt for a nice walk on the sand instead.

Discover Matador