How to… keep active on holiday

Aaah, the summer holidays. A whole week or two to really get stuck into that exercise routine that’s been on your to-do list for months.

Passport? Check. Magazines and books? Check. Trainers? Check.
Actual physical activity undertaken on holiday (except for a gentle stroll from hotel to beach)? Um…

With all the best intentions, it’s not always easy to keep active while you’re away on holiday. And if you don’t manage to, it feels doubly disappointing because if you can’t find time in a whole week of not working, when can you find time?

I think the trick is to lower your expectations of how much you will actually do. It’s probably unreasonable to expect to want to run for 10 miles in 30 degree heat after a night on the cocktails.

You can also credit the ‘fun’ stuff as actual physical activity. Here are some ideas:

* Getting into the groove after a few glasses of sangria? Go for it  – dancing is a great exercise, and you can test out your most outrageous moves knowing that you’ll never see these people again.

* Walk a little bit further to discover those quieter bars and restaurants away from the tourist hot spots.

* Does that pool look tempting? Challenge yourself to swimming a number of lengths or for an amount of time each day.

* Are you on the 5th floor of your hotel? Walk up the stairs instead of getting the lift.

* Explore. Have a look on Google maps and find somewhere interesting to walk or jog to. Going off the beaten track (safely) can bring other rewards such as discovering a lovely spot for a picnic, or an amazing view.

Beach Olympics: Silly holiday fun for all the family
Beach Olympics: Silly holiday fun for all the family

* Beach Olympics! A new favourite of mine to play with the family. You can mark out a straight section of sand as the 10 metre sprint or build up sandy hurdles for an extra challenge. A frisbee can be the discus event and a tennis ball can act as a shot put. Beach volleyball, obvs. And the high jump can be a mound of sand that gets higher and higher with each successful jump.

I wouldn’t recommend a javelin event on a busy beach though.

 

Don’t think you can run?

About ten years ago, I gave up my gym membership because it was expensive and just not convenient for me anymore. Instead, I looked into taking up running.

Like many people, I had never been ‘a runner’, I wasn’t sporty at school, and always did whatever I could to skive off the cross country PE lesson. During my student years I tried running a few times with my flatmate. Until then, the only exercise I indulged in was throwing crazy shapes on the club dancefloor and walking to the off license to take advantage of the 3 for £10 white wine offer. But every time I tried to run it just felt uncomfortable, my muscles cramped up and after a few attempts I gave up trying (back to the off license…).

But in my 30s running appealed to me again. I was working full time and paying high London rent. Running was convenient and free.

I made up my mind to give it a go and I credit this book with transforming me from someone unable to run for more than 15 minutes to someone who eventually ran the London Marathon in 2015.

Running made easy | Susie Whalley and Lisa Jackson
Running made easy | Susie Whalley and Lisa Jackson

The beauty of this book, Running Made Easy by Susie Whalley and Lisa Jackson, is that it starts at rock bottom. You alternate a few minutes of walking and jogging until, over time, you’re able to increase the jogging bit and decrease the walking bit. If you follow the plan you will end up running non-stop for as long as you want.

There are also loads of inspiring stories from people who have taken up running and the benefits it has brought to them.

I astonished myself when it dawned on me that in just a few months I was able to run for two hours without a break. You just have to start slowly.

Running appeals to many people because it costs nothing, it gets you out into the fresh air and you can do it anytime, anywhere with no equipment – you just need a good pair of trainers, and for women, a good sports bra.

If you’re interested but unsure how to start, this book will help.

Inspired by…Winnie

Winnie on her farm
Winnie on her farm

Let me introduce Winnie.

As a girl she grew up on a Welsh farm. She had to walk miles up the farm track to get to the road, then even further to school. She never learnt to drive and spent her whole life getting from A to B under her own steam.

She was tiny in height but strong as an ox. As a nurse, she would regularly lift heavy old men in and out of their hospital beds. In her eighties she was still regularly walking a two-mile round trip to get milk and newspapers and spent hours tending to her garden.

Winnie, my grandmother, passed away in her nineties in rude health. I’m convinced her healthy long life was due to good old fashioned walking and staying active every day. I intend to follow in her footsteps.