Should I Exercise On Holiday?

I write this blog post after coming back from a very pleasant week away in very sunny and warm Tenerife. Did I exercise? No I did not! I don’t think people should workout on holiday because when you’re away you should be relaxing and having fun. The purpose of going on holiday is to decompress and get some distance from our busy lives. Holidays are a chance to recalibrate. When we return from our hols ideally, we should be physically and mentally relaxed. This applies to a beach holiday and/or a city break.

The view from my balcony. The only exercise I did on my holiday was head tennis in this swimming pool…

The view from my balcony. The only exercise I did on my holiday was head tennis in this swimming pool…

Weight Gain

But I’m worried about putting on weight whilst I’m away? Another question I get asked. You may well put on a few pounds as obviously, you’ll be eating more, drinking alcohol and you won’t be as active as usual. However, your metabolism will soon return to normal when you return when you slip back into your normal routine of work, family, friends and training. Any excess weight will soon shift.

If You Must

I get it. If you don’t train you’ll feel super guilty so you’re adamant that you will hit the gym while you’re away. But you really shouldn’t! We don’t get much sun here in the UK so do you really when to spend time in the hotel gym when you could be enjoying the great outdoors? I can also tell you; I’ve stayed at some really nice hotels and the common theme has always been that the gyms are rubbish! I’ve yet to be impressed with a hotel gym, they usually consist of feeble worn out treadmill and a sparse set of (seen better days) free weights.

On a serious note, even professional sportsmen and women, at the elite level, will have a complete break from training of between two and four weeks per year. There’s plenty of research and science which says this is crucial for optimum performance. However, if you really must exercise as the guilt will mean you can’t enjoy yourself, then I would only suggest comfortable pace / low intensity cardio workouts. This will keep your muscles and your heart / lungs ticking over plus it’ll burn off some of those excess calories.


There are a few things you should be cautious of regarding holiday exercise. I never ever advise anyone to train the day after heavy drinking. Your body is stressed enough trying to get rid of the toxins from the alcohol so you should never increase this stress by working out whilst hungover . Also, training in intense heat and direct sunlight should always be avoided. It can cause heart rates and blood pressure to rise to dangerous levels and you can get dangerously de-hydrated. Many of my trainees have asked my advice on this subject and then swear blind that they’ll train, even after I’ve told them not too. However, pretty much all of them don’t get around to doing any, they get into holiday mode and lose the inclination. They are then riddled with guilt and beat themselves up when when they return. For the record, prior to going away, I always tell them that they probably won’t train once they get into the holiday spirit but I’m not so smug to tell them “told you so” when I’m proved right.

Do you really want the hassle of packing your training gear which will use up valuable space and weight in your suitcase? Do you really want to have to take home smelly workout clothes or, even worse, have to wash them while you’re away?


If we are fully rested from our break we are ready to take on all of life’s challenges when we return. If you are not fresh and revitalised your performance will suffer both physically and mentally. This will have a detrimental effect on your training regime, your professional life (work) and your personal life (family and friends). Therefore, do not exercise on holiday. Instead, be nice to yourself; spend quality time with people you care about, read a good book, have lot’s of relaxing massages, eat nice food and make the most of the sunshine.

When I return from holiday I’m like a coiled spring and can’t wait to get back to work and back into the general swing of things. This is how we should all feel.