Everyone will experience an interruption in their exercise or healthy eating habits from time to time. Holidays, as well as injury or illness, can force you to take some time off no matter how dedicated you are. People are creatures of habit, and holidays can alter your normal routines. So, how can you keep fit on Samui with the changes in your schedule this entails?
Well, there isn’t one right answer for everyone; it all depends upon your goals, current level of fitness and normal habits. If your main goal is to maintain your fitness level during a few weeks of holiday time, then some moderate exercise for 30 minutes, every other day, is all you need. If your current level of fitness is high, and you want to keep it that way, you will need to adjust your exercise time, type and intensity accordingly. If you have set eating habits with specific foods and times of eating it can be a bit more tricky, but not impossible.
Experts say that you’ll start losing fitness in about two weeks if you stop exercising altogether. Once lost, it takes nearly three times as long to recondition as it took to ‘detrain.’ Studies have shown that you can prevent declines in cardiovascular fitness for up to three weeks simply by doing higher intensity exercise (70-75 percent of maximum heart rate) for as little as two days per week. If your goal is just to stay in shape, remember that any type of exercise is better than nothing, and you might try something new, find that you love it and can start to incorporate when you get back home. Don’t despair; there are many options to keep fit on Samui that you can do in-between sunbathing, enjoying the beaches, culture, sightseeing, shopping, eating out and nightlife.
Samui has an increasing number of gyms that have cardio equipment as well as free weights and weight machines. Some have personal trainers and some also offer classes such as CrossFit, BodyPump, Zumba and kettle bells. There are other types of exercise studios that you can explore and try out for an added and unique ‘holiday experience’. There are yoga, Pilates and dance classes as well as the Thai national sport of Muay Thai (Thai boxing) for adults and children alike, and many hotels have a gym and offer some classes (research and book this before arriving if you can). Or ask about private classes – many resorts or villa managers know local teachers, either Thai or western, that give private lessons.
And then there is a football arena which is on the ring road close to Chaweng Post Office. Visit www.facebook.com/Samui-Arena for more information. If running is your thing, email firstname.lastname@example.org for the latest information about group runs, or for information on routes or running tips specific to Samui. We also have The Hash House Harriers. The Hash run or walk is designed for a group of individuals to follow a trail of two or three other individuals. The distance varies from seven to 10 kilometres, and the finishing point is usually the starting point, though not always so. Afterwards, there is a social event where some banter takes place and beer is drunk. Visit their website www.ksh3.com for further information. Another such group is the Samui hill walking group. They organise weekly walks into Samui’s mountainous interior. Find more information at www.facebook.com/Koh-Samui-Hill-Walks.
Most hotels, resorts and villas have a pool, and swimming is a great way to maintain cardiovascular fitness and keep your body toned, as well as keeping you cool in the tropical climate. If you don’t have access to a pool, most hotels will allow you to use theirs for a small fee or if you buy a drink. Or bring along your running shoes and go for a walk, jog or try some sprint training on the beach. Or join the locals along the wide and flat pathway around Chaweng Lake, where they also have some outdoor exercise equipment. Try some basketball, there are courts and hoops at the far end of the lake, just across the road, but you will need to bring your own basketball. If you just want to eat healthily and keep off any extra holiday pounds, then Samui has an increasing number of great places to eat out, including vegetarian and vegan options, so you can keep on track, whilst still feeling that holiday mode.
None of those options for you? Then be creative, think outside the box of your normal exercise routine. Try to remember exercises, stretches and routines that you do each week in a class or with your trainer at home and do these on your own. Use the internet to research and download exercise videos and apps that have a variety of exercises, or check out the million online classes available wherever you are on YouTube. Pack a skipping rope, borrow a yoga mat, hire a bicycle, take a stand-up paddleboard class, learn how to scuba dive or kite surf, go kayaking or horse riding or learn how to dance salsa. Before you know it you will be pushing those fitness boundaries and waking up muscles you never even knew you had!
But do listen to your body. If you are tired and in need of this holiday, rest, relax and eat healthily to recharge and rejuvenate. Find exercise while you are away that seamlessly fits into your day, creates a moment to switch off and helps you to explore your new environment. Stroll along the beach to watch the sunrise or sunset and enjoy the panoramic views across the twinkling turquoise Gulf of Siam, or look towards the verdant green and mountainous interior.
Regular short, quality exercise sessions also create lasting change. Health and fitness is a lifestyle, so try and incorporate a daily routine no matter where you are. If you really want to keep up an exercise or healthy eating regime, do some research before departing or soon after you arrive. It is relatively easy to enjoy the exotic delights Samui has to offer whilst still keeping your body and mind in shape.