5 Vacation Activities to Benefit Your Mind and Body

Man surfing to have a healthy vacation.

Enhance Your Vacation With 5 Activities To Benefit Both Body & Mind

By Morgen Henderson

Why do we come back from vacation feeling worse than when we left? Often, it’s from over-scheduling, over-indulging, or over-doing it in general. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are simple ways to have a healthy vacation and still enjoy yourself. One highly effective trick to returning refreshed is to choose activities that benefit your mind and body. Sure exercise and saunas are good stress relievers. But it’s not enough to hit the hotel gym or spa. After all, that's only a small part of your vacay day. What about those other 8 to 10 hours you have left to fill? What you choose to do with them impacts your mood and physical fitness too. Here are five getaway activities guaranteed to have you returning home feeling healthy in mind and body.

1. Surfing

It may seem like a niche sport for adrenaline junkies, but surfing is actually a popular activity enjoyed by all ages and skill levels. And when it comes to mind and body health, surfing is an all-in-one activity. Surfing works all your muscles, improves your focus, and relieves stress, all while having fun. And exposure to the sun increases your vitamin D while the endorphin rush of gliding through the water helps lowers stress.

Perhaps the best surfing benefit comes from the intense focus it requires. Balance, strength, spatial awareness, and a little courage help sharpen your focus and bring about the level of mindfulness achieved during meditation. External thoughts fall away with the waves and you live in the moment.

2. Walking/Hiking

Taking a successful vacation involves experiencing different cultures and soaking in exotic flora and fauna. Walking and hiking are relaxing ways to get an authentic local perspective, whether it’s a bustling downtown market or a secluded mountain path.

So, trade the planes, trains, and automobiles for the trails, streets, and paths and get into nature when you can. Walking with a loaded backpack strengthens leg muscles, helps improve your balance, and is a good aerobic exercise. Hiking lets you commune with nature too, giving you a chance to lighten your psychological load. Studies show that people who walk in natural areas like parks and forests are less susceptible to depression and could leave you with long-lasting mental stability.

3. Yoga

If you’re a yoga practitioner, you already know the health benefits of yoga. So, use it on your vacation to keep mentally and physically balanced.

But if you’re new to this ancient Indian practice, try it out on your next vacation. Before you book your flight or hit the road, check for local yoga classes in the area you'll be visiting. Many hotels and resorts offer yoga classes. Or plan a yoga retreat if you want an immersive experience. These multi-day seminars expand standard yoga practices by adding activities like meditation, workshops, spa treatments, and walks.

If you’re sure you want yoga to be part of your vacation, consider investing in some yoga equipment like a travel-sized mat, towels, and blocks. Vacations are a time to experience unique things, and yoga qualifies.

4. Cooking

Wrestling up some grub while on holiday keeps you relaxed and healthy. Take the opportunity while you’re visiting a different country to try your hand at traditional foods or local favorites. Staying a few days in Dublin? Pull together ingredients to make a pot of Irish stew? Healthy traditional recipes for different cultures are easy to find online, but if you have family, friends, or acquaintances in the area, ask them for their favorites. And visit the market to choose fresh ingredients. That will not only make your dish healthier, but it will also support the local economy and get you out and about in the community.

Cooking is a creative activity that involves all your senses. The sensory stimulation and pleasing smells release endorphins that lift your mood. Include family and friends and you inject a good dose of altruism into your creations. Plus, there's another reward at the end of it all — a delicious meal. 

5. Dancing

Perhaps no other activity blends physical exercise, community, and self-expression more than dancing. Moving your feet to the beat while you’re on vacation is a no-brainer. Look for local night clubs to hoof it up, enjoy some nightlife, and mingle with others.

If you want a more structured experience, search for dance classes near your accommodations. Studios may offer familiar moves, but throw yourself into the unknown. Try learning the samba if you’re in Brazil or take on Switzerland’s traditional folk dance. People love sharing and teaching newcomers these important cultural activities like dancing, so take advantage of their enthusiasm— you could even make a few new friends.

Author Bio: Morgen is a writer from the beautiful mountains of Utah. She enjoys covering travel, sustainability, and wellness topics. When she’s not typing away at her computer, you can find her exploring the many hikes near her home and traveling the globe. Catch up with her latest adventures on Twitter and Instagram.

In Conclusion

There are a number of different activities, excursions and classes you can try to reap the mind body benefits while on vacation. Try something new or get out of your comfort zone. A vacation is the perfect opportunity to try that salsa class you’ve always wanted to experience or take the surfing lesson you’ve always dreamed of. You may want to try a full on fitness vacation or surf/yoga retreat. That being said, if you’re not comfortable getting out of your comfort zone in a small or a big way, stick to activities that resonate with you and that you feel comfortable doing. It’s your vacation and your choice but the most important thing is to enjoy your time.

If you have any questions about this blog post, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below. We’re happy to answer!

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