What's your idea of a feel-good holiday?
If holidays are about the good times, then there's no rush more sure than the release of endorphins – or the ‘happy hormone' – that comes with an active escape.
Swap the sunlounger for some active fun on holiday and the endorphins released will give you a much higher feel-good factor. Active breaks are a great way to kickstart good habits that you can take back home with you.
If you're planning an active break for 2016 the key is to pick something you enjoy – and make sure you balance your fitness with the activity levels of your holiday. Exceeding your capabilities with over-exertion will not only ruin your fun but could be harmful. Take into account other factors that may impact on physical exertion including humidity, extreme heat or cold and altitude, and seek advice from your doctor if you are in any doubt as to whether an activity is suitable for you.
Build up your fitness
Build up your fitness levels before you go – not only for the general health benefits on your cardiovascular system and muscle strength, but also because it will increase your holiday enjoyment.
Active holidays are also a perfect way to get your family moving - there's little chance of the children being bored if they're windsurfing or ponytrekking, and you'll be laying healthy foundations for their future. Just ensure the activity you pick can be tailored to suit all family members' abilities and stamina.
Get on your bike
There are plenty of active breaks to choose and in some of the world's most beautiful locations - from gentle walking and yoga to mountain hiking and watersports. Cycling is one of the most popular and a great introduction to a more energetic holiday. We've picked four great options, from easy freewheeling to a challenging mountain climb to inspire you to action.
Green roads, France
If you like the idea of a cycling holiday but worry about roads, France's ‘voies vertes' might be the answer. These asphalt tracks run across France's lush countryside, following picturesque canals and old railway routes. There are no cars and the tracks lead through country towns, so finding rustic restaurants or small family run hotels as you go is really easy.
Camino de Santiago, Spain
The Spanish Camino de Santiago is renowned for walking, but it's also a great cycling trail. One of the most popular routes is the 800km Camino Frances threading from the French border through Pamplona and León to Santiago de Compostela. Most of the route is flat – do it all, or just a short section for a less challenging ride.
Heli-biking, New Zealand
Popular in New Zealand, heli-biking is for anyone who prefers cruising down hills to struggling up them. Here, your bike is strapped to a helicopter, which drops you both into otherwise unreachable mountain terrain. Rides down cater to experts and beginners, with full- and half-day trips and terrain from single tracks to rough 4WD roads.
Bupa Challenge Tour, Australia
Stay ahead of the cycling legends at the Bupa Challenge Tour in South Australia, next year on 22 January. Part of the Santos Tour Down Under world cycling event, the Tour gives recreational cyclists the chance to experience Stage 4 of the event, hours before the professionals. The ride, lined with cheering crowds, is suitable for beginners to experts, with four routes, ranging from 36km - cyclists who brave the longest option take on the gruelling Norton Summit Climb.