The RV lifestyle has a ton of upside, from meeting other RVers like you, visiting all kinds of amazing places across the U.S. and Canada, and much, much more.

Unfortunately, there CAN be a downside: namely weight gain and unhealthy eating habits caused by a tendency to overindulge while in “vacation mode.”

What can we do about taking better care of our health, and all of us getting rid of those extra pounds that creep up?

As it turns out, plenty.

“I actually call sitting too much ‘sitting disease’,” said Dr. Jason Olafsson of Custom Health Centers. “So sitting disease has been coined by some medical research in the past, but we do a lot of education around that in my offices.”

You may scoff at the term “sitting disease.” Don’t. No less an authority than the Mayo Clinic talks about it.

And as Olafsson told me (you can here the full interview here), inactivity is actually the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality.

“So people sitting too much equals a risk factor for death,” he said. “It really is something that we’ve got to watch out for.”

For starters, Olafsson suggests that if you’re going to be on an extended drive for a while, a couple hours between gas stops, then make sure that while you’re filling up, you’re getting a good 20 or 30 minutes of exercise. That can be as easy as a walk around the gas station and back into the RV.

Other experts I’ve talked to agree.

Take Stefany and James Adinaro of TheFitRV.com.

Their big message essentially is: You’re going to have to really make a conscious effort to live a healthy RV lifestyle if you want to live long enough to truly enjoy everything RVing has to offer.

“Exercise becomes so important as we’re aging because really the only way to switch our modes back to growth phase is through exercise,” James said. “It’s by breaking down our muscle tissue and rebuilding it stronger so we’re in growth phase again. As we age, if we don’t exercise we stay in that decay phase and that’s when we start to age and seeing the negative effects aging has on our bodies.”

Consider just some of the tips offered by the Adinaros in an interview with me (listen to the whole interview here):

  • Walking isn’t enough or a good enough exercise for most people
  • You must exercise 150 minutes of moderate cardio exercise each week. If you don’t sweat, you are NOT working out
  • You need two to three full body strength workouts every week
  • Incorporate exercise as part of your RV adventures through active outdoor activities
  • Stop driving every two hours and get out and move around for 10-15 minutes (noticing a trend?)

Stef Adinaro recommends taking resistance bands on the road.

“We do encourage people to travel with resistance bands because it’s a great way to get your strength in,” she said. “Taking a walk is easy in the RV you can just open up the door and go but the strength part gets more challenging…bands are a great way to get the strength going.”

And of course there are gyms all over the place these days, such as Anytime Fitness, which has been a frequent stop for us.

But you have to eat something, right? Of course.

The experts say that just as you should make healthy choices when it comes to exercise, so, too, should you make healthy choices with food.

Olafsson suggests a big shopping trip BEFORE getting on the road to stock up on fruits, vegetables, and other snacks.

“I can easily get sidetracked while on a road trip,” he said. “It’s easy to pull into a fast food restaurant. It’s easy to pull into the gas station and grab a bag of chips or a bag of candy of some kind and then just start munching away.”

Instead, Olafsson suggests looking ahead and saying to yourself “OK, if I’m on the road, what things do I like to eat?’”

If you’re looking for help with other foods, RVLifestyle Contributor Mary Jane Curry has some great recommendations like Heart Healthy Chili. She even has tips for how to pick out the best fruit.

Of course, we’re always looking for YOUR suggestions for healthy foods on the road so please, post them below for all to read!