Top 10 holidays for improving fitness

Improve your fitness during your break!

Holidays are a time away from the stresses and strains of modern day life; a time when you actually have time to indulge in the things that you may struggle to fit into your typical working week. Combining a holiday with exercise can be just the thing to either kick-start your fitness or progress your training to the next level.

Time to train and, just as importantly, time to recover, means that you can bring some real quality to your sessions and still return home refreshed and relaxed.

To help you choose a holiday that can improve your fitness and is matched to your fitness goals and current fitness levels, dip into this guide, which includes:

  • Fitness holiday ideas
  • Fitness benefits from different holidays
  • The best holidays for flexibility, Cardiovascular (CV) training, strength, and coordination.

How to use this guide to fitness holidays

This guide covers a broad range of holidays, each of which is rated for its benefit in improving the following fitness components:

  • Flexibility
  • CV training
  • Strength
  • Coordination

The rating system runs from 1 to 10 stars, with one representing the fewest benefits and 10 the most. Simply browse through the ideas and select a holiday that both interests you and matches your fitness goals. And if you’re looking to take your fitness further, then check out ‘The next level’ category for each holiday — which will really challenge your fitness!

Skiing and snowboarding

As well as being great fun, a holiday on the piste can be tailored to a wide range of fitness levels and bring about CV, strength and coordination benefits. Leg strength is particularly key, and a week on the slopes can really tone up your legs and buttocks. ratings
Flexibility 2
CV training 5
Strength 6
Coordination 6

The next level: Try cross-country skiing for a really challenging CV workout!

Windsurfing and sailing

Of these two disciplines, windsurfing is usually the more challenging because you’re always standing up and heaving on the rig. Coordination and strength are the primary benefits — and the more wind, the better the workout! ratings
Flexibility 5
CV training 5
Strength 8
Coordination 8

The next level: Try offshore sailing on an ocean-going yacht, as this involves continual exercise that can test even the fittest person. 

Walking and trekking

Walking is one of the best exercise disciplines available and has numerous benefits, including building CV fitness, building strength, improving coordination and protecting against osteoporosis. Additionally, if you’re carrying even a small rucksack through the day, you will be adding an upper-body-strength component too. ratings
Flexibility 3
CV training 6
Strength 7
Coordination 6

The next level: Try backpacking with a full load each day to really boost your CV fitness and strength!


Spinning the wheels on a cycling holiday is a great opportunity to explore a new area, add CV exercise and build leg strength. Almost everyone can ride a bicycle and cycling also brings a big dose of fun as well. Some holiday companies will transport your luggage between daily destinations, but even if you travel unsupported, your bike can carry the load and you won’t need a great deal of gear. ratings
Flexibility 3
CV training 8
Strength 7
Coordination 4

The next level: Try a mountain biking holiday. Off-road riding is more challenging — even on the downhills — and will help your coordination too.

Relaxing at the beach

Yes — believe it or not, a relaxing beach holiday can actually improve your fitness because if you’re a very frequent exerciser, the chances are that you rarely take any time off from training. This means that your body has precious little opportunity to recover from the cumulative stresses of your fitness routine. However, a relaxing week on the beach could allow you to ‘bounce back’ and return home mentally invigorated and raring to achieve new personal bests. Additionally, with all that lying around soaking up the sun, a beach holiday is an ideal opportunity to really work on your flexibility. ratings
Flexibility Up to 10
CV training No stars
Strength No stars
Coordination Up to 10

The next level: See ‘Surfing & bodyboarding’.

Surfing and bodyboarding

If a relaxing week developing your flexibility on the beach is not your thing, then a more active sun, sea and sand holiday of surfing and bodyboarding will be much more fun and challenging. Both disciplines require good all-round fitness — with CV fitness, strength and coordination being the key components. ratings
Flexibility 5
CV training 6
Strength 7
Coordination 7

The next level: Kite surfing is an exciting fusion of white water surfing with a large, kite-like sail for extra lift. Try it — it’s seriously fun and challenging!


A very popular holiday activity — and also one that can easily be added to an existing break. A golfing holiday can be enjoyed by all ages — and although it’s a lower level fitness activity, it still brings about several opportunities to add to your fitness. ratings
Flexibility 5
CV training 3
Strength 5
Coordination 5

The next level: If you’re looking for something extra, try doing a completely different activity before or after your round of golf — and make sure it’s more challenging than your usual 18 holes!

Scuba diving

A diving holiday is a fantastic experience where you can explore our generally unseen underwater world, and is an activity which requires a useful blend of CV fitness, strength, coordination and flexibility. A week or more diving every day can make noticeable improvements to your fitness — which could spin-off to your usual exercise routine once you return home. ratings
Flexibility 6
CV training 6
Strength 6
Coordination 6

The next level: Deep-sea diving is a very different discipline, requiring even greater fitness — so it’s not for the faint-hearted! But if you think you’ve got what it takes, then try it!

Horse riding

If you’ve never tried equestrian sports before, you’ll be surprised at how fit you need to be to successfully control a horse. Whether it’s a horsemanship element of the sport such as dressage or a faster-paced discipline such as racing, a few days in the saddle can challenge muscles that you didn’t even know you had! ratings
Flexibility 4
CV training 5
Strength 5
Coordination 6

The next level: Try endurance riding — which covers distances up to 100 miles (161km), requiring excellent stamina and local muscular endurance.

A sports-specific holiday

These days, many people are looking to either learn or improve in a new sport or activity, and so they select a holiday precisely to do just that. From running, cycling and triathlon training camps to alpine breaks where you can learn to paraglide, every conceivable activity is catered for. ratings:

The ratings depend upon the exact type of holiday that you choose, but as it’s a sports-specific break, each fitness discipline is likely to score highly.

The next level: How about going on a holiday that includes an event or a sporting competition? For example, you could go on a trip to compete in a foreign marathon or a similar event. 

Fitness first

Whether it’s a niche market holiday that caters for a specific activity, or simply a holiday where you can combine R&R with regular exercise, you have plenty of choice when planning which fitness holiday to go on. If you’re looking to return home with something more than just a suntan, then why not try one of the fitness holiday improvement ideas? By going on one of these holidays you’ll enjoy the usual benefits from your normal break plus gain more energy and have improved health and fitness on your return. Now that’s an excellent incentive to visit the travel agent!

Comments (6)

  • TonySmith2 'I had no idea that beach holidays can improve your fitness!'

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  • KIM 'Keeping fit on the beach is easy - I always go for a swim and do a bit of stretching, and my boyf occasionally gets involved in beach cricket!'

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  • HAN75 'I tend to be a lot more active on holiday. Lots of long walks and plenty of shopping!'

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  • PaulRitchie2 'I like keeping fit but holiday time is when I do absolutely nothing, but this article has made me think about it a bit more. I might be a bit more active on holiday than I realise cause I do tend to walk a lot, even if its just between bars!'

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  • adam_s 'Skiing is bad if you haven't got yourself in shape before you go. The best thing to do is work on your fitness before you get there so you're in better shape to get the most out of your skiing.'

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  • lisa300 'I did a half fitness adventure holiday/ half relaxing on the beach holiday earlier this year. It was the Kinabalu Challenge ( in Borneo, where you run, cycle, kayak, walk and helicopter through amazing jungles and rivers. It might be exhausting, but you get such a buzz from the people, the place and the challenges- I have never felt so alive!! And then you can enjoy your ice creams/drinks on the beach the following week without feeling guilty at all! If you're looking for a once in a lifetime fitness holiday, this is it! '

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