Imagine walking along the emerald-green crags of Newfoundland or exploring Quebec City’s cobbled streets. Both scenarios prove that getting away doesn’t have to mean taking a vacation from fitness. Holidays that include walking, cycling or hiking are becoming increasingly popular. And you’ll return home with more than a buff bod. “There’s a spiritual dimension to walking in nature,” says Wendy Scott, founder of Scott Walking Adventures, which specializes in East Coast trips. “As the saying goes, it helps your soul catch up with your mind.”
Here’s how to step up the fitness factor of your next holiday, according to Scott and Joe Doiron of Health Canada:
• For free walking tours and maps of five cities, check out Chatelaine.com’s Great Canadian walking tours. You’ll get a half-day of exercise while visiting top attractions.
• Discover more walking tours through guidebooks, your travel agent or online—try Attractions Canada (click “Travel information”). Ask tour operators about fitness requirements and the kilometres walked each day. Most people underestimate how far they can go, says Scott.
• Prepare for your trip by walking 45 minutes each day, including a few hills.
• Before booking accommodations, ask about fitness facilities, bike rentals, golf and other activities nearby. Or bring a skipping rope and hand weights.
• Don’t get discouraged by bad weather. Pack rain gear and choose bright colours to stay visible in traffic. Or, spend the day walking around a mall, museum or art gallery.
• Pack bandages, extra socks, a water bottle, sunscreen and comfy shoes.
• Whatever you do, stretch first, says Karri Dawson of the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity, an On-the-Move partner.