Simple Tips to Stay Healthy On Your Summer Vacation

Got a Summer vacation planned and coming up soon? If your answer’s ‘yes’, this article is perfect for you. Whether it’s a mini get-away to the beach or mountains, or if you’re flying across country, or overseas for a change of scenery and touring some amazing sites, a vacation should be a chance to relax, unwind and completely enjoy yourself.

But how many vacations start out with the best intentions and end up with a week’s worth of regrets?

We can go months and months sticking to a ‘pretty healthy’ and active routine, eating healthy, never missing our favourite exercise class with a friend or walking and staying on target, but a single week of going away can be enough to throw us completely off balance, and make us feel like we’ve gone all the way back to square one.

Late nights, early mornings, all over the place travel schedules, a few more drinks than usual, your favourite cocktails on tap, and ‘once in a lifetime’ moments, all seem to take priority over healthy decisions.

And the thing is, generally these things should take priority! When you’ve been working hard all year, or looking forward to a get-away, why shouldn’t you enjoy all these things?

Normally, indulging in a meal or two, or missing out on a day of exercise isn’t a cause for alarm.

However, when that one day of ‘less healthy’ decisions become 7-10 days of decisions you wouldn’t normally make, it can make it hard to get back on track once we return home. And before we know it, a week can very quickly turn into months of poor decision making.

Over the years of taking vacations and traveling, I’ve found simple ways that help keep me on track, despite having a few late nights, indulging, eating out and missing some work-outs. So I wanted to share them with you, so you can still enjoy and make the most of your summer vacations, without worrying about feeling like you’ve got to be ‘strict’ and get ‘back on it’ when you return home.

Introducing the ‘holiday exercise game’ – usually when I’m away I know that late nights, and family plans, will mean not being able to stick to my routine – which is completely ok!

So instead, I find it more fun to find other ways to fit activity into my day by turning it into a game. First, elevators and escalators don’t exist. Whenever possible, try to use the stairs and skip every ‘more convenient’ way possible. And if there’s a longer, or tougher route, I’ll choose to do that instead.

If a destination is within a mile (or two), choose to walk. Explore a little more when you’re away, and it’s the perfect chance to get more walking in without it really feeling like exercise.

Explore by walking. Getting to know somewhere by foot is a completely different experience than getting to know a place by car or tour bus. Not only is walking great exercise, you’ll probably stumble across hidden local gems and maybe find a new amazing restaurant you would typically just drive right by. If there’s a swimming pool, get in and enjoy and start your day off right. Swimming is the perfect form of low-impact exercise so there’s no risk of injury.

As for eating ‘well’, I know it’s easy to abandon a healthy diet altogether when there’s a lot of tasty food around you – especially while you’re away! We go from eating salads and nutritious breakfasts, to pancakes, pizza, big bowls of pasta and ice cream. But here are some simple tips to avoid doing too much damage. If you want to eat foods you wouldn’t usually eat back home – there’s nothing wrong with that, do it! But, if you’re feeling worried you’ll eat too much of it – load up on water before you eat, it can help curb your appetite and stop you from over-eating.

If you’re going to be drinking a little more than usual on vacation, don’t compound it with lots of unhealthy, carb heavy foods (not that there’s anything wrong with carbs by the way!), instead drink your carbs in smoothie form – this way you’ll get lots of vitamins and minerals, and will be doing your body a whole world of goodness.

And probably most importantly of all – relax, have fun, and do something!

How many times do we get to go away and enjoy a week with no time constraints? Not very often.

If you end up eating more than normal, who cares! Just make your next meal is less heavy and a bit more healthy. Make protein and vegetables the focal point, and add vegetables to your meals whenever you can.

Do something to make sure you move every day, and remember that taking the chance to un-wind, relax, have fun and stress less, has a great impact on your overall health. There’s plenty of simple ways to incorporate staying healthy and active while away on holiday.

Enjoy yourself, indulge a little, take a break and don’t ‘beat yourself up’.

Dean Volk PT, MPT
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