Vigorous vacations

By: Alison Dunn Jul 23, 2010

Think a vacation means sitting around on your duff? Try these active vacation ideas to stay fit and have fun!

If your idea of a relaxing vacation involves sitting around on a beach sipping mai-tais, consider how much a week of laziness and debauchery might add to your waistline.

With the average vacation weight gain estimated at somewhere between five and 10 pounds, it's no wonder many health-conscious people are looking for healthy vacation ideas to keep them busy, active and having fun.

Instead of sitting around and eating this year, why not try one of these great active vacation ideas? Trust us, your waistline will thank you!

Just say "om"

What could be more relaxing than a soothing, spiritual yoga retreat that nurtures body, mind and soul? There are a number of yoga retreats across Canada, and most offer weekend and week- long packages to suit your needs.

Generally, a retreat consists of accommodations, meals (usually of the healthy, organic variety), several yoga sessions per day, workshops and free leisure time to explore nature. At the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga on Salt Spring Island in B.C., for example, you can choose from a number of getaways, including an annual family yoga retreat and a "Deepen Your Practice" yoga and study retreat.

Pedal pushers

For those looking to visit a few different locations and soak up some scenery, a bike tour is one of the best ways to do it all. Most bike tour packages offer holidays for individuals, small groups and some large groups, and you can usually choose guided, self-guided or self-supported tours. 

Freewheeling Adventures, for example, offers a number of different adventure bike tours across Canada. They offer healthy, delicious meals, and inns or hotels of exceptional charm and comfort. Many of these guided or self-guided bike tours are suitable for all abilities, thanks to guides, small groups and van support. You ride your bike, and they follow you with a support vehicle containing varied picnics, spare equipment, and trained guides who want you to enjoy your vacation as much as possible.

The sea and beyond

If you're a thrill seeker, there's no better vacation than one that's based on water. From whitewater rafting to sea kayaking, you’ll find no shortage of options all across Canada to meet your needs.

Whitewater rafting, for instance, is a popular choice for group vacations and families with young teens. Most companies offer accommodations (some offer camping; others lodges), equipment and either weekend or weekday packages.

If whale watching is your style, why not try a sea kayaking vacation that could bring you up-close and personal with whales and other creatures of the deep? Newfoundland, for example, has a number of companies that offer sea kayak adventure getaways. One of those is Stan Cook Sea Kayaking, which takes adventurers on coastal kayak tours of Newfoundland and Labrador. You'll be awed by the seascapes – which include caves, sea arches, hidden coves and waterfalls – combined with sightings of whales and icebergs.

Do-gooder getaways

Volunteer vacations are growing in popularity thanks to the desire many people feel to give something back to others who are less fortunate.

Toronto-based Projects Abroad offers a number of different volunteer vacations that give you the opportunity to contribute to a local community in a developing country. You can teach English in Cambodia or Ghana, work on a building project in Ghana or even spend some time working among Inca ruins in Peru. Whatever you choose, you'll be not only staying active on vacation but making a difference, too.

A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.