expert top tips from PTs

Listen, we love nothing more than turning on our out-of-office email, boarding a plane (or a train, car, boat, etc) and heading off to enjoy a few weeks of well-deserved downtime (or even just a long weekend, we’ll take whatever we can get after the last few years). However, after a few days of strong cocktails, lounging by the pool and swapping our usual bowl of porridge or jazzed-up omelette for a sprawling breakfast buffet, it’s easy to begin to feel more sluggish than summery.

Whether you’re a keen CrossFitter, a runner or are in the middle of a love affair with intuitive movement, being pushed out of the healthy habits that keep us feeling ourselves back home can wreak all sorts of havoc. Perhaps it leaves you feeling backed-up – we’ve all been there. Maybe you’re finding your energy levels dipping; we get that too. You might just end up feeling a little less like yourself.

Even if you do try to work out on holiday, you’ve got the change in climate to deal with, the sub-par gym facilities at the resort or the fact that you have no equipment at all in your Airbnb. 

Of course, there’s no moral obligation to stick to health and fitness routines on holiday. In fact, throwing our usual routine out the window in favour of giving our minds and bodies a break is something we likely don’t get to do enough. But it’s good to have some input from the professionals if you’re feeling like you need a little bit of advice.

That’s why we tapped up some of the top health, fitness and wellbeing experts around to give us their hard-earned and long-learned top tips on how to keep up healthy habits on holiday, from embracing a ‘deload week’ to topping up on electrolytes. If you can tear yourself away from that juicy novel, you might just find them useful. 

Use your holiday as a ‘deload week’ if you do train

Laura Lane, PT and online coach

“Holidays are for switching off, winding down and escaping from reality and your day-to-day routine. A change in weather and environment works wonders for the mind and body, and so does taking a break from your workout routine. If you’ve been following a training programme for a few months, a week off can actually do your body the world of good.

“It’s called a ‘deload’ week and there are many benefits: from avoiding burnout and overtraining to promoting better recovery and helping you stay motivated. A deload week doesn’t mean that you have to stop training completely, so it’s a great option for those who feel they still want to maintain some form of training while away.

Women doing push ups on a ledge
A deload week might see you doing the odd body-weight circuit or a slower 5K than usual.

“So, what is it? You simply use the week to deload by reducing the volume of training you’ve been doing. You also reduce the weights you’ve been using – keeping your exercise light enough so that you still feel rested but heavy enough to make you feel like you’ve had a workout and kept your body moving.

“If there’s no gym or workout facility where you’re staying, pack resistance bands and a skipping rope. These items take up no room in your luggage and weigh next to nothing and there are so many different exercises and circuits you can perform with them. Using your own bodyweight is also one of the best forms of resistance training and is often underrated. It costs nothing, it’s always available (unless you’ve had one too many cocktails the night before) and you can work every muscle group.”

Embrace the mini-workout – even if it’s only five minutes long

Helen Maria Faliveno, intuitive movement coach and founder of Mindful Movement

“We might get into the mindset that a workout or practice is only worthwhile if done for a certain amount of time in a particular place (gym, studio, following a class), but this just isn’t true and is a fairly inflexible way to look at your relationship with fitness. 

“Taking just five or 10 minutes to move in a way that feels good empowers you to have agency over your fitness routine while enabling you to keep up an existing habit without missing out on precious pool time. Maybe you start with five minutes of HIIT or sun salutations; that might turn into 30 minutes, but if not, no biggie. You carved out time for yourself and that’s what it’s all about.”

Don’t feel guilty about not exercising on holiday

 ”First and foremost, there’s no need to feel the guilt about not working out on holiday, especially if it’s part of your routine at home – you won’t just undo your hard work by indulging or letting it go for a week.

“Letting your fitness regime slide a little won’t impact your long-term goals or cause any loss of fitness, and making memories with loved ones is so important. But if you want to stay feeling great, embrace a different way of moving; perhaps a nice walk on the beach first thing or before bed might be best.

“Find a new activity to try, like a hike, stay hydrated or simply use the time to rest away from a busy at-home life and still ensure you get some foods in that make you feel great. Remember no food is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it’s the amount we have of each that can make us feel different, which is why finding a balance is important.”

Walk everywhere, even if it’s just laps of your hotel

Luke Hughes, PT and founder of OriGym

“Making healthy holiday choices doesn’t need to be complicated. It’s completely natural to indulge during much-needed holidays, and you shouldn’t feel any sense of guilt or shame in that. But, if you are seeking to continue with your healthy habits while on holiday, an easy and enjoyable way to do that is by walking.

“There’s been plenty of research into how walking brings a myriad of health benefits, but it’s perhaps one of the easiest ways to continue a healthy lifestyle while still treating yourself to those hard-earned rewards. Something as simple as a lap of the resort you’re staying in or an amble down the streets near your hotel has the power to build muscular endurance, maintain your usual metabolic rate and brighten your mood, even if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

“You’ll also have the additional benefit of seeing the beauty of where you’re staying, sunshine or not. See the sights and the local culture, stroll along the shoreline and bask in the beauty of a new locale, while still maintaining that healthy lifestyle you’ve worked so hard to build.

“Ultimately, though, it’s all about balance. Walking is an amazing way to stay in shape and explore what your surroundings have to offer, but it’s equally important to take that day or two lounging by the pool or on the beach. You’ve earned a break, and how you spend it should reflect that.”

Stay hydrated to beat bloating

Patrick Dooley, PT and relationships manager at John Reed Fitness

“Staying hydrated with water, from the moment you hop on the plane and throughout your trip – especially if the weather is hot – is an effective way to feel good. When flying, the air-con, altitude and jet lag can make you feel dry-skinned and bloated. Water replenishes your body’s electrolytes and helps you to feel good.

“I would also recommend drinking a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage on holiday, bringing your own water bottle for consistent refills and starting each day with a big glass of water. Remember, you can still be mindful while enjoying yourself.”