News and views on the latest health issues

Articles


Articles

Keeping fit on holiday

mature-couple-canoe-700x300

A holiday helps refresh and recharge your batteries but it’s also a good opportunity to kick-start your fitness regime. Personal trainer Lucy Wyndham-Read is on hand with ideas and inspiration for holiday exercises.

A change of scene can do you the world of good but being away on holiday means you’re also away from your usual routines. Although it’s tempting to forget about exercising, lazing around on the beach or by the pool all week can make you feel even more tired rather than revitalised.

 An exercise-filled holiday, however, can be surprisingly uplifting. It’s a good chance to try something new and you may even arrive home with more energy than you imagined.

If your exercise regime is normally confined to a gym, you can gain added benefits by exercising outside. Research published in the ‘Journal of Environmental Science and Technology’ revealed that outdoor exercise boosts mental and physical wellbeing, providing greater satisfaction and increasing the likelihood of repeating the activity.

Cycling

Hiring a bike is a great way to explore the area you’re staying in and you gain the added benefit of a workout. It’s something all ages can enjoy and, whether you’re making use of dedicated cycle tracks or exploring mountain biking trails, cycling can be done for a few hours or all day.

Walking

Like cycling, incorporating plenty of walking into your holiday is ideal, as it combines getting you out in the fresh air and sightseeing with exercising. Even walking slowly for one hour could burn about 175 calories – more if you’re walking uphill.

In the case of beach holidays, one vital ingredient – sand – has a hidden fitness benefit. “Walking or running on sand is a great workout for your legs and body,” says Lucy.

Set yourself a challenge to walk, or run, on dry sand once or twice a day when the beach is less busy – in the early morning or evening. “Aim to complete a certain distance daily, gradually building up speed,” adds Lucy; “by the end of your holiday, you could end up looking and feeling super fit.”

Swimming

Swimming is one of the gentlest forms of exercise for all ages, as it doesn’t put stress on your joints and it’s a good choice of activity while on holiday.

Swimming a few lengths every day in a hotel pool or in the sea will give you a good whole body workout, plus it will burn off some calories and help maintain your fitness levels.

If you’re feeling more energetic, join a class to do aerobics in the pool – you may even discover muscles you’ve not worked in ages.

Don’t forget to apply plenty of waterproof sunscreen if you’re swimming outside – and reapply it regularly throughout the day.

Family fitness day

To get the whole family exercising, Lucy suggests creating your own fun, family triathlon.

“Start in the morning and hire some bikes, so you can visit the area and do a bike ride,” Lucy recommends; “then go for a run or fast walk to explore the local facilities. Finally, finish off the day in the pool and set a goal of swimming a certain number of lengths.”

“You could even make some colourful cardboard medals with ribbons to present to the winners at the end of the day.”

Other sports

In addition to the old favourites, holidays offer the perfect opportunity to move outside your comfort zone and try something new. If you’ve been hankering to try a new activity, such as water-skiing, rock climbing, beach volleyball, salsa or boxercise, take the plunge and give it a go.

Make sure you find a qualified instructor or join a class and ensure that all the necessary safety equipment is available before attempting sports that could be dangerous. If you find you love it, why not join a class when you get home to continue your new sport?

Indoor exercise ideas

If it’s too hot to exercise outside or you want some quick stretching exercises to do each day, then Lucy suggests that men could try:

  • Press ups
  • Squats
  • Jumping from side to side
  • Abdominal curl ups

Good options for women include:

  • Lunges
  • Star jumps
  • Abdominal curl ups
  • Jogging on the spot

All of these exercises could also be used as a mini circuit routine. If you’re getting children involved too, then marching on the spot, doing star jumps or pretend skipping are all enjoyable exercises for youngsters.

Holiday exercise tips

Whatever exercise you choose to do, take care not to overdo it, especially if you’ve not exercised for a while, as you don’t want to end up nursing sprains or strains on holiday.

“You should avoid exercising in the midday sun, so either set your alarm and be up early or aim for the early evening,” says Lucy; “always wear a hat, keep yourself fully hydrated and always take water with you. Don’t forget your sun lotion either and re-apply it regularly for maximum protection against damaging UVA and UVB rays.”

If you have any questions about exercising on holiday or improving your general fitness, then you can ask our panel of experts.

back to top


Sign up to our monthly Better Health newsletter to receive updates on our latest health and wellbeing updates.


Sign up to newsletter

Ask the expert

Got a question about health or wellbeing?
Our team of medical experts are ready to help.