Gardening, getting coffee and family fun: How to stay fit and healthy over the summer holidays

woman walking in the bush
Now isn't the time to spend hours pumping iron in the gym, says trainer Christie Houghton. Photo credit: Getty.

The Christmas break can often turn into one big hazy stretch of pavlova eating, mid-day napping and reaching for a 3pm gin and tonic. 

While this is all heavenly and absolutely deserved after a big year, it can be easy to suddenly reach February and realise you've done no movement in weeks apart form the occasional meander down to the dairy get a Fruju Tropical Snow. 

We have more time on our hands than ever in the summer holidays, but it's often when gyms and fitness studios shut so trainers can have their own well-deserved break. 

But with your usual gym closed and a run looking pretty unappealing, how do you not lose a year's progress in a few short weeks? 

The key is to adapt, according to star trainer Christie Houghton, who took away the award for 'group trainer of the year' at the New Zealand Exercise Industry Awards in 2020. 

Houghton, whose fitness group Active Soul caters exclusively to women, says our bodies are constantly dynamic and are "changing week to week"  - so getting stuck in a routine and focusing on numbers isn't always the way. This may not be the time to be pumping iron, but you can still fit in a little movement where you can. 

Here are Houghton's top tips for staying fit and healthy over the Christmas holidays: 

Increase your incidental exercise.

With a shift in routines and work no longer in the way, this is an opportunity to move more! Walk for your morning coffee, run around and play with the kids, get into the garden, think about ways you can increase your daily incidental exercise - which will also create habits you will want to continue into your regular working week once back into usual routines.

man walking dog
Take the dog for a stroll to get coffee with the extra hours in the morning. Photo credit: Getty.

Be active as a family, try new things and have fun with it! 

Holidays often provide quality time with our favourite people so why not get some movement out of it. Head out for a walk to explore the area, turn simple games with the kids into a workout by adding an exercise component in or jump onto an online Zoom class together. Not only do you benefit by adding more exercise into your day, but the kids learn from modelled behaviour that an active lifestyle is valued and important.

Schedule workouts in

If exercise is important to you, there's no reason this needs to go out the window while on holiday. By scheduling your workouts into your week, you'll be more likely to regard them as protected time and actually do them. Remain flexible with the type of exercise, length of workout and where in the day it could fall, but having a draft plan in place will make it a whole lot easy to take action!

If you pop a workout in your diary you're much more likely to do it, says Houghton.
If you pop a workout in your diary you're much more likely to do it, says Houghton. Photo credit: Getty.

DIY mini-workouts at home or on location

Easily add a full-body workout with little to no gear into your day and make it short and sweet and achievable as a result! Simply pack a long resistance or loop band and your favourite trainers into your suitcase and you have everything you need for a great workout at your fingertips – no excuses. They take up minimal room and provide such a variety of exercises you can mix things up beautifully. Keeping them to around 15 mins will get the heart rate up, muscles working hard and not feel too overwhelming. It's a win-win!

Take the pressure off

A holiday is as much for your body as it is for your mind - treat this as an opportunity to reset, to listen to your body and do whatever movement you need over this time. Stretch, move well, mobilise, opt for moderate workouts that will maintain fitness levels rather than striving for new PBs. Understand that listening to your body, stepping back and allowing time to rest is sometimes just as important.

If all you manage during this time is some walking and stretching, that's ok!
If all you manage during this time is some walking and stretching, that's ok! Photo credit: Getty.