Stay healthy this summer with a movement-based holiday
Words Kaisha Scofield X Photography Michelle Gjerde
Ah, summer: long lazy days at the beach, slow evenings around the campfire, carefree floats on the lake and idle hours in the hammock.
The ease of summer can be wonderful, but it can also be a time when positive movement and nutritional habits are tossed out the window. It’s easy to understand why. Summer schedules are more relaxed, days are longer, and there are opportunities for physical and nutritional compromise around every corner—cowboy coffee by the beach, weekends of day drinking and s’mores-infused camping trips.
It is, however, possible to achieve summer bliss without completely losing track of your health. We are lucky enough to live in a province that is packed full of world-class activities that will keep you entertained while keeping you active and supporting wellness. Here are a few summer vacation ideas that offer adventure, movement, relaxation and fun.
We are rich with stunning ocean vistas and wild beaches here in BC, but too often we are unfamiliar with the vast and mysterious waters that surround us. A great way to become one with the ocean is to take a kayaking trip alongside Pacific Rim National Park, in Northern Barkley Sound and Clayoquot Sound.
Whether you are a seasoned paddler or still getting your sea legs (or arms, in this case), this adventure has it all. Paddle through the shores surrounding Tofino or Ucluelet, exploring the Broken Group Islands, ancient First Nations villages and old-growth forests. Many tour companies offer a variety of outings from quick day trips to epic five-day adventures.
These are the gains: kayaking works your arms and shoulders but is also an incredible way to build core and back strength. Spending time on the water is one of the best ways to boost mental health and wellness; the sound of the waves, coupled with the salty air and motion of the water can provide mental clarity and peace of mind.
We are spoiled with incredible skiing opportunities in BC, and when the snow melts those hills turn into topnotch hiking destinations. Spend a weekend in Whistler and Blackcomb, exploring the stunning glacier-fed lakes in Garibaldi Provincial Park that boast water so blue it has to be seen to believed.
Or head to the beautiful Taylor alpine meadows with awesome mountain formations like The Chimney, found on Black Tusk hike. This area offers everything from challenging multi-day hiking trips and mountaineering to smaller day hikes with stunning waterfalls.
These are the gains: any walking activity is beneficial to your legs, hips, glutes and core, but alpine hiking takes things to the next level. Working under strain, with a backpack and/or at higher altitudes challenges your body (muscles and cardiovascular system) in a way that you won’t experience in the gym. Alpine hiking is a great way to combine adventure with physical activity.
Yoga retreats abound in BC but there is something extra special about Savasana on the Gulf Islands. The Salt Spring Centre of Yoga is a non-profit facility that is one of the longest running retreat centres in the province. Its annual Community Yoga Retreat is a popular multi-day, family-centred event that includes activities for kids, evening events, food and, of course, plenty of yoga. Yogis can choose to camp on the vast property or rent a private or shared room in the main centre. There are yoga retreat centres all through the Gulf Islands that offer single- or multi-day retreats.
These are the gains: yoga is full-body training for every level. The various styles and poses allow for excellent movement and stretching of the big and small muscles of the body. Because of the extensive breathing and mindfulness practised during yoga training, physical and mental strength are perfectly combined. A yoga retreat is an ideal holiday for someone who is looking to boost their physical and mental health while also engaging in some deep self care.
If you are looking for something extreme, there’s nothing better than skydiving over the Pacific Ocean. Skydive Vancouver Island, located just outside of Nanaimo in Nanoose Bay, will take you 10,000 feet into the sky where you will tandem jump and enjoy a 200-kilometre/hour free-fall for 45 seconds, before your guide pulls the chute that will sail you back to earth.
If the thrill of jumping out of a plane isn’t enough, the views from the sky of Comox and Cowichan Valley, Mount Baker, Mount Arrowsmith and Barkley Sound will blow your mind. This adventure is one for the bucket list.
These are the gains: the majority of growth in this experience is mental, the importance of which can not be understated. Bravery and self-reliance are huge parts of training, for sport and life. It is safe to say that jumping out of a plane, while several thousand feet in the air, can provide a new perspective.
The Okanagan is famous for its wine, and for good reason: it has more award-winning wineries than anywhere else in BC. What do you do when there are so many amazing wineries in one place? You go on a tour, but not just any tour. These tours are by bicycle.
Throughout the Okanagan there are companies offering wine tours via manual and electric bicycle. These tours often include delicious picnics, extra activities like hiking and, of course, wine.
These are the gains: cycling is one of the most efficient forms of movement. Your leg and glute muscles are definitely doing the bulk of the work, but cycling involves participation from the entire body, including the mind. Road cycling is an excellent way to combine motor and cognitive training because of the necessity for the collaboration of physical and mental movement, navigation and coordination.
The best way to experience the beauty of British Columbia is by getting into the wilderness through nature and movement-based holidays. There are endless possibilities and incredible companies and guides ready to take you on the adventure of a lifetime. So strap on your hiking boots, fill up your water bottle (don’t forget your electrolytes, and get your body and mind into nature.