All those piña coladas on the beach could be affecting your waistline long after you ditch your bikinis

By Macaela Mackenzie
Shutterstock

Putting on a pound or two while you're on vacation is not that out of the ordinary (although, you should be using these 9 Clever Ways to Make Your Vacation Healthier). But hey, no judgment-you worked hard for that time off, and the food in a foreign land is so good! But according to a new study, that extra weight could be hanging around long after your bags have been unpacked.

Adult Americans gain an average of one pound on their one to three week-long vacations, according to research from the University of Georgia's College of Family and Consumer Sciences. That doesn't seem like a ton, until you consider the fact that also we gain about one to two extra pounds overall every year. That's a big chunk of our overall gain in a short period of time, which supports the notion that the needle on our scales is slowly creeping up.

The study tracked 122 adults between the ages of 18 and 65; researchers measured the participants' height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, and waist-to-hip ratio at three different points: one week prior to their vacation, one week after they'd returned, and then again six weeks after they'd returned.

Sixty-one percent of the participants gained weight while on the trip, and the overall weight gain over the course of the study was just shy of a pound (even six weeks after they'd been back home). Since we actually tend to get more physical activity when we're on vacation, so why the added weight? According to the study authors, it's all about our caloric intake. The biggest culprit? All those piña coladas. The average number of drinks participants had in a week doubled while they were on vacation, which seriously upped their calorie consumption. (Maybe we should be drinking these Bikini-Friendly Beers instead...)

There were some beneficial effects of time spent traveling on the participants' health. The study did find that stress and blood pressure levels dropped-even six weeks after the vacationers had returned home.

So what's the takeaway for those of us with wanderlust? We tend to place a lot of emphasis on getting in shape for our vacations and forget about a fitness routine to keep us in shape after. By all means, live a little when you travel. Just make sure to do some extra work when you get home to fend off the creeping obesity trend. (Or book one of these Once-In-a-Lifetime Fitness Retreats for Women and get the best of both worlds!)

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