For many of us, staying fit is a way of life. Scientific studies have proven what gym bunnies will bore you with regularly: that exercising keeps depression and burnout at bay. It seems a healthy body really does mean a healthy mind, no matter how you look at it.
If keeping fit is important to you, you may want to stay on top of your workouts while on holiday. Fitness levels can dip quite quickly: aerobic power can slip 5% in a week, and 15% in two weeks, although muscle mass takes a bit longer to start deteriorating (normally about two months). Rest, relaxation and enjoying the local cuisine should of course be on the top of your list, but you can also hold on to your well-earned fitness levels while on holiday. So what can you do to stay on top of your fitness while also enjoying a bit of R&R?
You can, of course, choose a hotel with a fully equipped gym – most luxury hotels have at least a few basic cardiovascular machines and a swimming pool. Some go much further, offering state-of-the-art fitness centres, with personal trainers and aerobics classes. Grecian Park in Cyprus and Hillside Beach in Turkey both offer an extensive range of fun fitness classes.
Many resorts have tennis courts and golf courses; The Blue Water in Sri Lanka has tennis and squash courts along with golden sandy beaches and lush coconut groves, while Thailand’s Royal Wing boasts a huge gym, seven tennis courts, aerobic studio, squash courts and six swimming pools.
But there are other ways of staying fit on holiday, allowing you to combine sightseeing with exercise. Resorts such as Portugal’s Quinta da Marinha and Spain’s Gran Hotel Bahia del Duque offer mapped running trails, giving you the chance to experience the surroundings while working out. Many, including Stoke Place in England have regular running classes, where you go out with other guests and a trainer for a couple of hours – a great way to keep fit and meet new people. Running along a beach, or through a forest trail, is exhilarating, and beats the treadmill any time.
If you are staying near a beach, you have a killer workout on your doorstep. Running or walking on soft sand burns more calories than on flat ground, and is especially good for your glutes. Barefoot beach running can be beneficial for your feet, especially if you have slightly low arches – but if it hurts make sure you wear your trainers for running. You could get shin splints without the proper support. Papagayo Beach Resort in Curacao sits on Jan Thiel beach – perfect for a morning run before a day of watersports or sunbathing. Grenada Grand Beach Resort in Grenada boasts a breathtaking white-sand beach with stunning Caribbean views.
Biking is another great way to keep fit, and gives you a wonderful freedom to explore a new region. Many resorts have mountain bikes that you can hire or borrow free of charge. The Van der Valk Gladbeck is surrounded by beautiful countryside – perfect for cycling. In Iceland, the Grand Hotel Reykjavik can supply bikes and maps to explore the city. Argos in Cappadocia has a fleet of mountain bikes for guests wishing to explore the dramatic landscape on two wheels. The Crown, Olde Bell Inn and Old Swan and Minster Mill, all in England, also have bikes free of charge for guest use.
Walking is another great way to see the sights up close, and can be enjoyed by young and old of all fitness levels. Pack a picnic and head off into the hills with a map and a friend. Abbaye de Talloires is the ideal destination for walkers. Lakeside Hotel sits on the edge of Lake Windermere in England’s Lake District, and reception staff can supply you with detailed maps of walks around the lake.
Hiking trails also give you a great opportunity to keep fit and experience new landscapes – the added elevation means you’ll burn lots of calories. Just make sure you take a map with you, and never rely on the map function on your smartphone – intermittent services could mean getting lost in the back of beyond. Stay at Hotel Ranga and you can hike Iceland’s dramatic landscape, taking in glaciers, volcanos and geysers.
Getting away from it all is an important part of your routine, and rest and relaxation will rejuvenate your body and allow you to give 100% when you get back to everyday life, but with these tips you can stay at the top of your fitness game – and allow yourself a few guilt-free treats as well.