It’s holiday season. You’ve worked hard all year, so now’s the time to take your foot off the pedal and kick back a little, right? Or perhaps, like me, you suffer from workout guilt when you relax the regime? I tend to worry that if I don’t incorporate some kind of exercise into my holiday, then I might fall off the wagon completely. There’s a fear that by doing nothing we quickly revert and forget the healthy fitness habits we’ve developed. But is it really that bad for us to miss a session or two?
According to scientific research it can be a slippery slope. Fitness levels do decline rapidly, depending on the length of time you go without training. The body’s strength, aerobic capacity and endurance suffer, affecting our metabolism and resulting in less fat being burnt. In particular, those who like to keep their cardiovascular fitness in top condition can expect the worst hit. VO2 max, which relates to how much oxygen you take in and use during this type of exercise, decreases swiftly, which means that with every heartbeat the body is pumping less blood. After two to four weeks of doing nothing you’ll definitely notice a difference. However, there’s no need to turn into a complete couch potato when you’re away – even if you do enjoy lazing on a sunbed for hours, there are plenty of ways to introduce light activity into your day without piling on the pressure.
Tap into your inquisitive nature and explore the area by foot or on bike – even a brisk walk around the shops will increase your heart rate and put a spring in your step. For beach lovers there are even more options. Make a point of having fun with your fitness and try something new, such as hiring a surf board or having a go at stand up paddle boarding to engage those core muscles. Why not take a refreshing dip in the pool or the sea, or turn your hand to wind surfing? Create special memories of your time away that get you moving, like horse riding along the beach, or simply climbing a mountain and taking in the view. Even a spot of yoga on the beach will help to improve the way you think and feel.
It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do something, but it’s equally important that you make it enjoyable. You’re not going for gold at the Olympics. You’re on holiday and this is your time to chill out, so take the opportunity to mix things up a bit while being kind to yourself in the process. Nourish your body and mind rather than punishing it!