I had planned on including lots of references to recent scientific studies to support the claims made below. But getting organized for an active vacation took precedence 😉 .
Instead, I’m basing this post on my own personal experience and those of my group fitness participants and fitness coaching clients. I bet that many of my reasons for planning an active vacation will ring true for you as well…
Some people are great at sticking to their regular gym routine while on vacation. I’m not one of them 🙂
But that doesn’t mean that I spend all of my time lounging by the pool, trashy book and fruity drink in hand (although I can’t say enough about the restorative powers of a hammock…).
Experience has taught me that inactivity detracts from many of the benefits of taking a holiday in the first place.
I want to return home feeling relaxed, recharged and re-invigorated. Staying active on vacation helps me achieve that goal.
While I usually visit my hotel’s weight room once or twice during a week away, I keep formal workouts short and sweet (like this or one of these) and get most of my ‘exercise’ through exploration and play.
We hike, walk and rent bikes. We try new activities like SUP, snorkelling or kayaking. If there’s a local ‘yoga on the beach’ class, we might join in. Active vacations keep us learning and growing as a family.
They also make it easier to get back to your health and fitness routine once the holiday’s over…
8 reasons to plan an active vacation
- More movement leads to better sleep. I never sleep well when I’m away from home. At least for the first few nights. The more active I am, the better I sleep. And the more my family and I can enjoy our time together 😉
- Active exploration enhances the cultural experience. For me, travel is all about experiencing a different culture. Different foods, different forms of entertainment, different plants and animals and different views. Differences that are more fully experienced on foot than through the a car window.
- Staying active keeps holiday food indulgences from coming home with you. While I don’t view exercise as punishment for eating ‘off plan’, it does help your body burn the extra calories you’ve sipped and munched on during the day. And let’s face it, new food experiences are a big part of holiday travel 🙂
- Movement energizes. You know how tired you feel after a weekend Netflix marathon? Same thing happens when you spend too many days laying on the beach. I’ve found movement to be the best way to generate the sustained energy I need to experience all of the activities on my vacation ‘to do’ list. Plus, it’s a natural mood enhancer; a definite plus when you’ve spent too many days in close quarters with your family 😉
- Being active and making healthy food choices go hand in hand. Ever notice how much easier it is to stick with your nutrition plan when you work out early in the day? I find that when I’m physically active I’m more aware of the choices I make at mealtimes; choices that will support, rather than undermine the time I’ve already spent moving.
- Fitness gains are quickly lost. Ever notice how hard exercise feels after you’ve taken a week or two off? Fitness gains are all too quickly lost. Even as little as a week away from cardio can leave me huffing and puffing when I return to step class. Oh and did I mention that de-training effects are magnified by age? Don’t lose it, use it (even if it’s via ‘unconventional’ exercise).
- Fitness habits are lost even more rapidly. Not only do we lose fitness when we take a break from regular exercise, we lose the habit of fitness. Alas, abandoning good habits is much easier than developing them in the first place. If you’re relatively new to exercise, ensure that you nurture your fitness habit my incorporating lots of movement and activity in your holiday itinerary.
- You get to test your ‘gym’ progress in a real-world setting. All of those squats and pushups and planks you’ve been performing? Notice how they translate into easier hiking, paddling and golfing; not to mention your enhanced ability to lift your carry-on into the overhead bin.
- You meet the most interesting people. This is probably my favourite reason for planning an active vacation. The more you’re out and about, the more people you’re likely to meet. People who’re also interested in health and fitness and exploration; people just like you.