Personally, the idea of exercising on holiday – as in doing a workout – abhors me. Vacations are for R&R and not worrying about your weight and fitness routine. However, I do know that some of you will disagree with that. What I’m going to suggest, to help those polar opposites meet in the middle, are fun activities that you can do on vacation that won’t feel remotely like exercise or working yet still have similar benefits. They can be effortlessly incorporated into your vacation and more importantly, you’ll still be having fun.
1. Explore on Foot
Walking is great exercise and, best of all, helps you to save money when you're out sightseeing. Instead of hiring a car, taking a cab or hopping on a bus, take a stroll and get fit, while discovering the delights of your holiday destination. City breaks in Lisbon, London, Paris or Berlin are just as suited for this as a stay in the Algarve or Mallorca. Walking for just 30 minutes a day will help you to burn off calories and stay supple. This means you can include visits to cafes, bakeries and pâtisseries in your sightseeing and not feel guilty for indulging once in a while. It's one of the best ways to keep fit and have fun, at home or on vacation.
Water parks are a great place to have fun and get fit and are suitable for all ages. In Germany's South you'll find fabulous spa towns where for less than 15.00 Euros per day you can treat yourself to sauna, swimming in whirlpools or hot natural springs, shoot down water slides or have a gentle massage. Spain and Portugal's Algarve are also boasting amazing water parks with many rides, slides, several different swimming pools, picnic areas and restaurants. The USA, Japan, Australia and Seoul all boast a fantastic array of water parks. Swimming takes the weight off our spine and knees, exercising our muscles in a gentle way.
3. Beach Volleyball
If you're travelling with family or friends, playing beach volleyball is a fantastic way to get fit, have fun and make new friends. Nobody likes to be the spectator who stands on the side lines and looks on. Before long, onlookers will ask if they can join in. Show off your brand new red swimsuit and become a Baywatch Babe. Places like Margate in the UK and Timmendorfer Strand at Germany's Baltic Sea coast hold annual international beach volleyball competitions that attract thousands of visitors, proving the sport is rapidly gaining fans.
Many places, including Bali, offer paddleboarding tuition now. Easy to learn, paddleboarding is great fun, but you'll need to find your balance and be able to slightly bend your knees. Your arms will get a good workout, as you'll be paddling constantly, once you get the hang of standing on a board. You won't even notice that you're getting core, arm and leg workout, you'll behaving that much fun.
5. Tai Chi
For something less energetic try Tai Chi lessons, offered across Andalusia in Spain, in Portugal's Algarve and many other places around the world. Exercising all major muscles as well as helping you to relax and breathe more effectively, Tai Chi is quite sociable, too. Once you know how to do it, you can meet other Tai Chi practitioners in the park, at the beach or at the edge of a forest and practice in a group.
Kitesurfing, like wind-surfing, requires great stamina and sense of balance. It's a demanding sport, make no mistake, you'll be aching the next day. Brazil's famous beaches are great for kitesurfing, but you can also practice at Pegwell Bay, Ramsgate in the UK, at the Costa del Sol in Spain, in Hawaii or Thailand and destinations that boast steady winds and a good surf. Surf schools offer equipment hire as well as qualified instructors.
Mallorca in Spain, the Portuguese Algarve, the Greek Islands, the Florida Keys, Thailand's islands and Costa Rica are fabulous places for snorkeling. You'll need shallow, crystal clear waters, goggles, flippers and possibly a life jacket. While kicking your arms and legs to stay afloat, you'll be able to watch colorful fish, crabs and corals lurking just a few meters below the surface of the sea. Hawaii is another great place for snorkeling, where you might be lucky and see a pod of wild, playful dolphins.
Austria's Tyrol and Germany's Hohenlohe and Taunus Massif regions are fantastic places for hiking, one of the most uncomplicated ways to keep fit and have fun. Mallorca's Tramuntana Mountains and the Algarve's Monchique Mountains are also great places for strapping on a pair of boots and a backpack with water and sandwiches and striding out into the wilderness. Be sure to obtain a guide book charting hiking trails. Hike any of the fabulous US trails and you'll be burning off lots of calories and exercising pretty much every muscle in your body.
If you’re anything like me, you can see that keeping fit on vacation doesn’t have to be a chore. You can be active, have fun and not feel like you’re losing vacation time to working out. Do you do your regular exercise routine on vacay or kick fitness to the curb for the times you’re away?