So your Summer holiday is fast approaching and it’s well deserved. After long days in the office, looking after the kids or meeting stressful deadlines, some relaxation is justified.
Taking a Summer break can also mean a break in your exercise and fitness routine as you soak up the sunshine, enjoy the all-inclusive buffet and put your feet up. However, whilst a pause in your workouts can be a good thing, there’s also a downside to suddenly stopping exercise.
Here’s the key pros and cons of stopping exercise whilst on holiday and some simple ways to keep moving whilst having some well-earned time off:
The biggest pro of taking some time from working out is that your body can have some downtime. If you spend a lot of time in the gym normally, or perhaps attend a few Classes during the week or go running each morning, your body deserves a rest and taking a Summer holiday is the perfect excuse.
During your workouts, you’re not actually “getting fitter”; it’s the recovery process that gets your body working, repairing, restoring and performing more efficiently. This article from Huffington Post sums it up nicely: in essence, taking some time off from exercise gives your body sufficient time to recover, fight fatigue and become, overall, more prepared to be tested again once you’re back home and back on the treadmill.
Another huge pro to taking a break from exercise whilst you holiday is more psychological: giving yourself some much needed “me” time. Studies show that many people feel guilty if they miss a workout during their weekly routine. According to Psychology Today, “not-exercising guilt” affects a huge number of us and can lead to a sense of failure or underachievement. But if you’re on holiday, there’s no better excuse to skip the Gym and no better time to give yourself a break. Use your time off to spend quality time with family and friends; reassess your goals and objectives of working out and return to the Gym refreshed, motivated and, most importantly, well rested.
There are, of course, some downsides to stopping exercise too. Whilst many of these are only a worry if you stop for a significant amount of time, it’s important to be aware of the health implications to suddenly letting your body go from active to stagnant. Some of the most significant cons to suddenly stopping exercise include:
- High blood pressure – on days you don’t work out, your blood pressure is naturally higher and if you become sedentary for a period of two weeks or more, research shows that your blood vessels become more accustomed to your less active lifestyle and can lead to more permanent high blood pressure.
- Spike in blood sugar – taking five days or more off exercise can affect your blood sugar levels as your body has nowhere for any excess sugar in your body to go; this can lead to dehydration and, in severe cases, diabetes
- Feeling puffed out – many health experts claim that two weeks off exercising can decrease your VO2 max level by 20%; meaning you’ll be 20% more out of breath after simple exercise
- Slow metabolism – it’s no surprise that taking extended time off can slow your metabolism down; being still and not moving enough means our bodies can’t burn fat as effectively
- Fuzzy brain – there’s tonnes of proof out there that exercise can help to boost brain activity and taking time off from working can make people feel grumpy, tired and more reluctant to get back into the swing of things; it affects children too
How to stay on top of it
Whilst there’s absolutely no pressure to work out whilst you’re on holiday (we certainly won’t judge), there are some simple, fun ways to keep moving and active inbetween those poolside Mojitos and mid-morning ice-creams. Here’s a few ideas that the whole family can get involved with:
Move your feet
A short yet brisk walk while you’re away could be the answer to keeping “on top of it”; according to Blood Pressure UK, fast-paced walking can significantly help to lower your blood pressure and is an easy way to keep fit and moving. Soak up the scenery and lap up the landmarks simply by walking a little bit more.
Jump in the pool
Swimming is a great way to burn off some energy while having fun at the same time; if you’re sunning yourself in a villa or at a hotel this Summer, why not try a few laps of the pool each morning and evening? Or perhaps head to the local beach for a splash?
Pack your trainers
If you’re so inclined, and your hotel or villa has a gym, why not try and encourage yourself to do just 20-30 minutes light exercise a few times during your stay? Burn off those cocktails by not ditching your routine altogether; our personal trainers can help devise you a bespoke holiday plan too to make things that bit easier.
Hit the bike
Cycling is a great aerobic exercise, with an average man burning between 500-600 calories an hour at moderate speed. Hire some bikes for the whole family and tour the local area of where you’re staying by bike: it’s more fun than sitting on a tour bus or in a car and gets your heart pumping too. Keep your metabolism nice and stable whilst having fun at the same time.
Challenge your loved ones
Tennis tournaments; pool games; volleyball matches; all ways you can keep fit and healthy whilst on holiday but have fun at the same time. At the end of the day, your holiday is a time for you and your loved ones and shouldn’t be sabotaged by guilt or feelings that you have to exercise for fear of losing track. But if you’re likely to get a bit restless and want keep moving where you can, some fun and games will do the trick.