Exercise tends to be part of our daily or weekly routines. Travel (in the very best way!) disrupts those routines. Of course, traveling itself can provide exercise (kite-surfing, anyone?) You may have something more specific in mind, however, or a goal you need to build towards. Time to get a little creative… Adaptation is the name of the game.
The strongest and most consistent recommendation I have been given in regards to fitness is “don’t wait til you feel like it”. Because, well, we tend not to feel like it. Even if we enjoy the activity, we will only remember that once we’ve actually started doing it. This is why routine is important… so what will we do when we can’t go jogging every morning at six? Have you ever tried doing yoga on a moving bus? (Don’t.)
With routine, you’re going to need to widen your parameters. Don’t totally give up on your regular goals, but loosen the boundaries. Keep your half-an-hour per day (for example) of exercise, but you can change the style of exercise – or be willing to slot it in when you find a free thirty minutes, instead of waiting for the same time to be available every day.
Make Some Changes
Depending on your goals, you may be able to substitute one form of exercise for something similar and more portable. This may take some research, as your goals will be personal to you. It may be worth consulting a trainer at your local gym to get recommendations.
For example, if you usually use exercise equipment, you might be able to follow a home workout that utilities body weight instead. If you often do yoga, work on a few sequences that can be done easily on the go. Perhaps a sequence that mostly involves standing, so you can be less concerned about having a mat.
For those who want to go to the gym, there’s no reason that you can’t. Unless you are staying in a countryside cottage for your entire trip, odds are you will be able to find a gym. The same goes for tennis courts, swimming pools, etc. It does take a little extra effort, but these things tend to be cross-cultural. A gym session in Naples is likely to be the same as one in Arizona. Language barriers must be considered, but you could bring some pre-translated phrases along explaining what you want to do.
You may be able to get advice from a local. Perhaps someone who works at your accommodation, or anyone you happen to chat to in a bar or store. And if you’re staying at a large hotel or cruise ship? There is a pretty good chance that these facilities will be provided for you.
The food we eat will often have a huge affect on whether we exercise. If you are suddenly eating a lot of fatty, salty food, snacking on every interesting item that’s on offer, and drinking with a regularity that you haven’t adhered to since college… well, congratulations, you are a perfectly normal traveler. We all do this (There are a few exceptions, but no-one wants to be the person whining at the breakfast table that there doesn’t seem to be a local translation for “paleo”).
If you want to be able to go on that run around the city you were planning, however, you need to factor that into your eating habits. Don’t deprive yourself (for goodness’ sake). But maybe have only one drink when everyone else is having two. Don’t feel as though you have to eat the entire basket of bread just because it’s there. Try the locally grown fruit platter for desert instead of the hefty chocolate thing that requires two waiters to lift it. Or at least split it with somebody.
These are all common healthy-eating tips, of course. But when you get out of your regular routine, food as well as fitness can become difficult to control. If you are considering another cocktail, think about how good it will feel to take that early morning swim in the ocean the next day. Preferably without a hangover.
Okay, so I was kidding about the kite-surfing. Mostly. But traveling to new places often means that there will be new activities on offer. Some of these will be relaxing. Others will involve physical effort… while still being an incredibly fun experience.
If you find activities that will serve as exercise, you might be able to leave your regular routine altogether. Maybe you can go canoeing or kayaking every day, or rock climbing. If you are staying somewhere near a lake or the sea, trade in your daily jog for a daily swim. You can combine exercise with a deeper enjoyment of your location.
The easiest way to adapt these activities as your exercise is simply to keep track of them. There is a slew of apps dedicated to doing this. You could also just go old-school and judge by how tired you get…
Use a step counter as you walk around a new city’s museums, or along a winding beach. Rent a bicycle and explore a woodland trail. Use your cruise ship’s squash courts, even if you’ve never played squash before in your life (Ask for some help first).
Hopefully, none of the tips I have given will be too hard to follow. However, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. You may miss a day, or two days, or a week.
Maybe all the activities you find the most appealing don’t involve that much effort. You might fall in love with the food so deeply that some days you can’t help but have a bit too much. Perhaps you never realized how tired your work life was making you, and the first week of your trip will be spent taking well-deserved, palm-frond-shaded naps.
Or, maybe, the lack of routine will just get the better of you for a while. But if it does – don’t give up. Don’t start down that defeatist route of “oh, well, I missed a whole three days, might as well give up for the rest of the trip.” Just take a walk, and see how you feel after that.
Remember why you’re traveling in the first place. Be kind to yourself, and stay willing to adapt.