Our fitness expert Ollie Thompson helps you stay fit this summer.
Everybody enjoys a good summer holiday! Whether you’re holidaying here in the UK, or abroad on a hot tropical island, taking some time away to relax, soak up some sun and explore a new area is a highlight for many.
Over the past eight years as a trainer, I’ve encountered many people pursuing a fitness goal that may lead to feeling anxious and stressed about summer holidays; particularly concerned that they will reverse the progress they’ve made, or worried their momentum will tank.
If you have a summer holiday planned for this August, I’m here to help. In this article, I’ll break down my eight biggest tips for maintaining your fitness and health on holiday, without stepping foot in a gym and most importantly, still thoroughly enjoying your well-deserved break.
TIP #1: PROTECT YOUR SLEEP
One of the key reasons we take trips away in the summer is to have a break, relax and rejuvenate. What better way to relax than spending a full week achieving eight hours of quality sleep each night, perhaps even an additional siesta too – why not hey? Sleep is the backbone to our wellbeing. Getting adequate sleep is not only essential for all bodily functions, but plenty of rest will also encourage you to make healthier nutritional choices.
TIP #2: HYDRATION
Staying well hydrated on holiday, especially in hot dry weather, is absolutely essential. There’s no quicker way to feel terrible than spending a day in 30º heat without any water. Whether you’re on a staycation in the UK, or you’re exploring the Mediterranean, always keep some bottled water on you. I advise filling up the hotel fridge on arrival with plenty of bottled water. Not only is hydration essential for your health, but it’ll also help keep you full and less likely to reach for the snacks.
TIP #3: ALCOHOL
Hydration segways us nicely into the topic of alcohol. Of course, for many of us, a summer holiday involves some alcoholic drinks, and rightly so. I’m certainly not here to tell you to avoid your aperol spritz. I do, however, think that a few strategies such as having your final alcoholic drink at least 90 minutes before bed and always pairing alcohol with water is the way to go if you’re keen to prioritise your health and minimise any damage to your progress.
TIP #4: MOVEMENT
While relaxing on the beach or by the pool is great, adding some activity to your day is also highly recommended as movement and activity will help you increase your energy levels. So, whether you walk around the local town, swim in the sea or hike up to a viewpoint, adding some meaningful activity to each day will be hugely beneficial to your health and fitness.
TIP #5: STAY ACTIVE
If you’re away for only a few days or a week, then I suggest you aim to keep general activity high through walking or swimming instead. It’s important for our bodies and our minds to take a break from high-stress exercise – what better time to provide a rest than during a holiday! There is no need to be concerned about weight gain or muscle loss during this time. If you eat well and stay active throughout the day, you’ll be good. Moreover, you’ll likely return home with even greater motivation and fire in the belly to dominate your fitness goal.
TIP #6: NUTRITION
Following general nutrition advice for a holiday is challenging, as eating arrangements differ. Meals are often prepared by somebody else and, more likely than not, dinner is a key social activity with family or friends. Instead, here are four nuggets of advice I give to my travelling clients that are invested in their fitness journey:
1. Go light on the carbohydrates, focus on getting a good source of protein and plenty of vegetables.
2. Stop eating when you’re 80 per cent full. Pushing to 100 per cent is unnecessary and uncomfortable.
3. Keeping breakfast and lunch small can help free up more calories for dinner time, enabling you to splurge a little more, enjoying the bread basket and extra wine.
TIP #7: CAFFEINE INTAKE
Skip the post-dinner espresso. Caffeine this close to bed will impair your sleep quality substantially. If you’re in a European country such as France or Italy, you may feel like the odd one out for skipping the 10pm espresso, but trust me, your sleep will thank you.
TIP #8: RESEARCH
Some prior restaurant research can be hugely valuable when considering food options. Spend a little time looking through menus online and checking out images on Instagram, as well as Google reviews. This will give you a better idea of the healthier options, limiting your chances of splurging out on high-calorie foods.
#TIP 9: WORKOUTS
If your hotel does have a nice gym that you fancy using on your stay, here are a few simple, short and effective workout tips for you:
1. Full-body low-moderate intensity workouts are a good idea. If you smash out some high intensity intervals, chances are you’ll be drained for the remainder of the day which is no fun for your family or friends.
2. If you’re used to lifting weights but your gym has very little equipment, don’t shy away from using bodyweight exercises. Slowing down movements and pairing bodyweight strength exercises with some light cardio works well.
3. Taking your workouts outside onto the road or beach can be fun. Some jog-walk intervals can be a nice way to explore the local area, get some morning sun and work up a breakfast appetite.
#TIP 10: ENJOY YOURSELF
Finally, but most importantly… enjoy yourself and don’t stress too much about your fitness. A week on holiday will not do any damage to your fitness journey or body composition if you’re sensible. Allow yourself to splash out, enjoy your time away, and don’t feel bad about not hitting the gym. Overall, this break will do your body and mind some good!
Read more: Three fitness fundamentals to thrive at 40 and beyond