Have a Healthy Holiday

When many of us take a vacation we seek to relax. We spend long, lazy days on a beach chair and socialize the night away with fancy cocktails, and indulgent desserts. Too often, we return home drowsier, heavier and flabbier than we’ve been since, well, our last vacation, with no memorable events to recall. Here’s how to break that pattern, and turn your next getaway into a memorable, rejuvenating experience.

Reacquaint Yourself with Sunrises and Sunsets

A walk at dawn or dusk is rejuvenation defined. Try to make this a daily ritual of life away from home, and you will guarantee yourself both physical and spiritual replenishment.

Get Into the Water As Much As You Can

Don’t allow yourself to spend all your time sitting in front of the water. Whether it is the ocean, a swimming pool, or a tree-lined lake, make sure you get into the water for swimming or games or even walking. Merely standing in waist-high water is a good workout, thanks to the action of the water. And you’ll feel so much more alive!

Get Out of the Car Every Two Hours

Many of us spend a large chunk of our vacations on the road, either getting to and from our destinations, or using the car for sightseeing. But no matter how beautiful the scenery is, great, memorable vacations don’t happen in a car seat. Don’t wait for exhaustion or nature’s call to get you to pull over. Frequently get out and stretch, walk, picnic, shop, visit, and have fun. It’s important for your health and energy, and it makes traveling a lot more active and interesting.

Play Active Games

When most people think of outdoor games, they think of team sports like baseball, football, or volleyball, all of which can be both intimidating and excessively strenuous for grown-ups who stopped playing such things a long time back. So forget about the standard games. All types of fun outdoor games are available today. Start with the old-fashioned ones-badminton, shuffleboard, or horseshoes. Try some new ones too-they make great balls out of Nerf these days, and if you haven’t bought a squirt gun in a while, be prepared for today’s amazing super-soakers. Plus all types of new paddle games are available that are easy and fun. Your goal: Play an outdoor game every day while on vacation.

Create a Silly Tournament

Particularly if there are kids on the vacation, it can be a hoot to create your own mini-Olympics. For example, if you use the swimming pool every day, have a daily competition, such as holding your breath underwater, or swimming between people’s legs, or having a big splash contest. “Silly” is the operative word-don’t make it serious competition, but just a chance to have active fun in which everyone participates.

Beware the Food Obsession

Let’s be honest: For many of us, vacations are about eating splurges. It’s fresh seafood by the ocean, amazing restaurants in great cities, unlimited breakfast buffets at the hotel, that ice cream, candy, or cake that you remember as a child and come back for every few years. This is the stuff of great vacations, and don’t deny yourself these pleasures.

Our suggestion: Limit yourself to one food splurge a day. If you do more, the uniqueness and specialness of the splurges fade away. And you’ll spend too much time sitting in restaurants-and then sitting some more, recuperating from the overindulgence.

Explore On Foot

Yes, you can use the concierge, the travel guides, the map, or the bus tours to get acquainted with a new location. But only by getting out and walking can you truly get the feel of a village, city, resort, or wilderness. We recommend that you plan to spend the first several hours at your vacation destination walking the area. If you are in a city, pick a few restaurants to try while you are walking and make your reservations in person. Be sure to locate the parks, museums, and shopping areas.

Fly a Stunt Kite

If there’s a good wind blowing at your destination, purchase a stunt kite and take it to the beach or other large open area. These kites can be easily assembled and then taken apart, making them perfect for traveling. You’ll give your upper body a great workout as you struggle to control the kite. You may also have to run or walk to keep the kite in the air-or chase it down once it plummets to the earth.

Ready To Commit To Even More Action?

Wrap your entire vacation around an activity, such as sailing, skiing, hiking, biking, or exploring. No expertise is necessary-just a willingness to take on a new challenge. Travel agents can hook you up with any number of vacation packages targeted from novice to expert, adolescent to senior, single or whole family. If you have children, look for packages that include excavating dinosaur bones and other anthropological expeditions, or that teach them a new sport. A ski vacation with lessons for different ages and ability levels works beautifully.