We all need a break from our routine sometime. From work, from school, from our families, from the same old, same old. It's natural to need a break. It makes us appreciate even more what that activity or person means to us: security, opportunity, love and acceptance, a sense of belonging. The break is meant to refresh us, fill us with a sense of adventure or give us a chance to relax. We tend to use these breaks to go on vacation, whether physically or figuratively. However, the one thing you should not take a vacation from is health.
Our bodies were designed to move, and to move in many ways. You may have heard it said "Sitting is the new smoking". We spend too much time in our current society just sitting. Our jobs for the most part have us sitting at desks. Transportation has us sitting to get somewhere. Our meals are taken while sitting at tables or countertops. We sit at movie theatres to be entertained. Let's not also sit through our vacations.
When travelling, it's easy to fall out of the routine of exercising. After all, the very nature of the vacation is to take us away from the daily grind. For some vacations are far from sedentary. A lot of walking may be done while discovering a new city. Or a new vigorous form of activity may take place such as hiking, swimming, cycling or skiing depending on the season. Either of these scenarios can lead to stiffness as the body adapts to either decreased or increased movement.
What is important is ensuring that no matter where your vacation takes you, you maintain a system of stretching and strengthening the body in order to bring balance to it. A completely relaxing vacation with little activity will lead to weaker muscles and stiffer joints, and most likely weight gain or simply a lazy attitude toward fitness after the vacation is over, making it difficult to want to return to your previous exercise activity. On the flipside a holiday full of increased activity, while invigorating, can contribute to inflamed and sore muscles, stiff joints and possibly lead to injury it it isn't countered with lengthening and stretching movements.
On a recent 10-day family vacation to Miami, Florida, I did my Pilates mat routine every morning to ensure that no matter what I did later that day, I'd be covered. There were a few days during which we did little more than walk as we visited new places. Other days were spent swimming and playing in the pool or ocean. However, I never for once thought to leave my Pilates practice back in Toronto while on holiday. When at the beach, I was given the opportunity to teach an impromptu Pilates lesson to a family member. No equipment was needed. We simply went through the mat routine on the sand. We ended up drawing a crowd of onlookers. Some joined in. Others asked for lessons after our "session" was over!
I also booked myself a private lesson with a renown Pilates teacher at his studio 50 minutes away from where I was staying, just so I could keep up my apparatus practice as well.
Vacations offer us so many opportunities to discover new places, people, food, customs. If time, distance and budget permit, we can also discover new gyms, studios and fitness trainers to keep us moving in the right way. Or we can simply pack along a good exercise book to lead us through a workout in the comfort of our hotel room.
Nowadays there are so many resources to help us stay connected, informed and motivated that there are no excuses for putting our fitness on hold while we are taking a break from the rest of our routines. The internet can offer us search engines to seek out a place to workout, online classes we can join in. Don't let being on vacation allow you to get lazy about moving your body. Movement, and proper movement I might add, is as important as eating, drinking water, sleeping and brushing your teeth. It is a daily necessity.
So while you're taking that much needed break, remember, there are no holidays from health!