You know that feeling when you come home from vacation to your pants fitting a little tighter, your stomach a little squishier and muffin top has a little more ‘top’ than you would like? Yup, me too.
I was active on a regular basis at home, but when I would go away for a couple weeks on vacation I had a habit of fully indulging in everything and completely ignoring physical activity. When I returned home I would pinch, squish and sigh at myself at the sign of extra pounds gained and more than anything, the negative mental effects from not exercising. Why couldn’t I just give myself a break and relax while on vacation. Well the truth is for people who have built physical activity into their life know that it is just that..it’s a part of your lifestyle. To not do anything active for an extended period has effects on your mental and emotional health, and possibly your physical health (although likely the weight gain could just be in your head. Don’t underestimate the powerful effects that exercise has on mental health).
Several years ago when trying to minimize my packing for an upcoming vacation my running shoes almost didn’t make the cut, but thankfully I thought otherwise. Bringing my running shoes on vacations is now one of my favourite things. A morning run in a new city had brought some amazing experiences, that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
- Ran on the Roman grounds of the Hippodrome
- Come across surfers in Munich in the English Gardens
- Jogged with locals in Regents Park in London
- Ran through orange orchards in Seville
- Hiked over the Algarve cliffs in Portugal
And most of all, had time to really take in the local surroundings and culture. In fact, I have not had a run in a different country where I haven’t come across something completely amazing and unexpected that I wouldn’t have seen had I not tied up my shoes and gone for a run.
In some cities I love the feeling of being mixed in with locals, getting a smile, nod or 'good morning' as I run past. In other places I get weird looks, locals not understanding what I am doing, as was the case last month when I went for a run in the (large) hills of Valle de Bravo in Mexico. An area frequented by mostly locals and not many tourists, there were plenty of confused looks and questions asking what I was doing and if I was going to exercise. I welcome their odd looks and questions. It might just be enough to encourage others to think about their own health and fitness and decide to take action and do something active that they enjoy.
One of the things I love most about exercise is the domino effects it has on others around you. When one person is exercising it always has a way to influence those around them. It may be that someone decides to park a little further away from the grocery store or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Maybe it’s a walk on their lunch break or making use of a gym membership that has sat stale for the past several months. Doesn't matter what it looks like, exercise is contagious.
The more active we are, the more active everyone else will be, and in the end doesn’t everyone want to be healthy? I am not talking about 6-packs and ripped muscles though, I am talking about general physical health. The ability to walk up a flight of stairs without feeling winded, the option of running around with your kids outside, being able to enjoy your grandchildren and aging gracefully.
It’s really not about trying to lose weight, or burning off calories while on vacation, it’s about maintaining something that is important to me in life, whether I am at home, or travelling. I feel centered when physical exercise is part of my regular schedule. I may not exercise everyday while on vacation, but doing something active a couple times a week has been an amazing addition to my travel experiences.
I am not alone in this discovery, active tourism is on the rise. The adventure tourism market (in which active tourism is a part of), grew by 65% between 2009-2013 and is continuing to grow. People are looking for unique active ways to travel and see the world. Which is great because FitCity's mission is to make the world a healthier place and we are so happy to see people are up for the challenge!
Many cities around the world have running tours, which is a great way to get a workout in, and see some sights. To me running around a city with like-minded people is 100% more appealing than being squished in a large tourist bus being carted around to the main sights.
It’s not just all about running though, I have
- Kayaked the Guadalquivir river in Seville
- Surfed off the Algarve Coast.
- Walked the many many hills (& stairs) of Lisbon
- Hiked through the rice terraces and hills of Sapa in Vietnam
- Horseback rode through the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa
- Rappelled waterfalls in Costa Rica
- Swam to the edge of Victoria Falls and sat in Devil's pool
- River hiked in the south of Spain (yup, that’s a thing! River hiking was new to me too, but soo much fun!)
Now when I travel I look for active tours and fun physical things to do in the city I am visiting. I have found this to be the best way to see things slightly outside the main tourist track and away from the hoards of tourists. I know I am not the only person out there that wants to see the world this way, which is why I started FitCity Tours & Travel.
Vancouver, BC is the perfect place to launch FitCity as it is one of the most active cities in the world. To truly see this city you need to get outside and get active. FitCity will show you the city the way the locals love it.