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FOR SOME, VACATIONS and exercise seem to be mutually exclusive. If you’re on vacation, you don’t exercise, and if you’re exercising, it’s not a vacation. Running shoes are tossed aside in favour of flip-flops and heels because “I won’t need these where I’m going.” The result: Many people come back from vacation feeling exhausted and as though they need a vacation from their vacation.

I’m no doctor, but captain common sense tells me if you spend a prolonged period of time laying out in the sun and indulging in “beverages” and unhealthy foods, your body isn’t necessarily going to thank you once you step off your return flight.

In an ideal world, we would continue our regular workout routines while on vacation—finding a local gym, or waking up early to get in some exercise before the day’s activities begin. Although I applaud those who stick to it even while on vacation, this is not always realistic.

On vacation, I like to sleep in and spend time with the people close to me. At the same time, I, just like everyone else, like to indulge here and there. My favourites: Brownies and whiskey—not together, mind you. In order to avoid the post-vacation slump—feeling bloated and blue—I suggest a simple solution: Pack those running shoes.

My favourite (and easiest) way to fit in some exercise on vacation is an age-old practice of lacing up shoes made for a special purpose, and putting one foot in front of the other repeatedly. That’s right, walking. Instead of taking local transit or cabs, I walk wherever I’m going. Not only do I feel like I’m getting a decent workout, but I also benefit from seeing more of the city surroundings.

For example, I recently went on vacation with a friend to Montreal and we walked absolutely everywhere. We didn’t realize how far we had walked until the end of the day when we were relaxing at a pub and retraced our steps. Had we simply taken the metro or cabbed to tour the city, we would have missed several entertaining sights, including a man singing “I’m Sexy and I’m Homeless” and a girl wearing an Irish flag as a cape who was doing clap push-ups.

The bottom line: If you want to combine exercise and entertainment on your next vacation, pack a pair of running shoes and a pedometer to see exactly how much exercise you’ve fit in without even realizing it.

—Sarah Horlick