This post was contributed by our Health and Wellness Travel Expert, Michael Henri
There are SO MANY benefits to getting fit and staying fit while traveling. For many people, it’s difficult to make exercise a priority.
Whether you are going for 2 weeks or 2 months, there’s some key information that will help get you motivated to exercise in your daily life and while you travel.
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While the obvious reason to exercise is to lose weight, there are so many more benefits that will actually make your travels better.
Let’s take a look at the real reasons to staying fit while traveling.
How staying fit while traveling benefits your body
It gets the blood moving
This is probably the most important benefit of an active lifestyle. Combined with eating proper nutrients, an increased blood flow is a catalyst for the majority of health benefits.
The food we eat, the water we drink, even the vitamins we absorb from the sun are distributed through our bloodstream. The blood moves all of these resources to where they need to go.
Our blood is the highway of our body. By staying fit while traveling our blood circulates more efficiently and maintains a nice steady flow of traffic. This contributes to decreased chances of disease by reducing blood clots that can lead to stroke or heart attacks and proper blood sugar level distribution resulting in fighting diabetes. All good things if you want to keep traveling as you age.
Exercise Creates MORE energy
If I exercise, I will have more energy? Yep. Simply put, by maintaining an active lifestyle, your heart muscle becomes stronger. A strong heart reduces the amount of work needed to complete any activity in our day-to-day life.
By exercising while on the road you will actually have more energy to walk up all those stairs in the old city, hike up that mountain, or dance late into the evening.
Exercise Prevents aches and pains
An active lifestyle before and during your travels increases your overall strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, coordination, and stability. This allows you to enjoy the travel experience that much more.
One of the main reasons for random aches and pains in the body is due to a muscle imbalance. If your body does not have the strength or endurance to complete an activity, the body will compensate for the muscle imbalance, resulting in aches and pains.
You can easily prevent aches and pains – and even worse, an injury – by maintaining regular exercise before and during your travels.
How staying fit while traveling benefits your mind
Exercise Improves sleep
How important is sleep? VERY IMPORTANT! The body and mind cannot function long without proper sleep. If you have ever been sleep deprived, you know what this feels like.
A study completed by the National Sleep Foundation showed that 150 minutes, less than 30-minutes a day, of moderate to vigorous activity a week provided a 65 percent improvement in sleep quality. If you want to wake up feeling energized in your daily life and while you travel, a quick daily workout will do wonders.
Provides mental clarity
As we exercise we change our focus. We are able to clear our mind and focus on the activity we are doing. Exercise is a form of meditative practice.
As our brain is our command center and controls everything we do, in order to be an efficient machine, it requires all the nourishment it can get. With increased blood circulation, the mind is empowered and fuels the entire body. A clear mind will help you get the most out of your incredible travel experience.
It makes you feel good
Exercise is often followed by a euphoric feeling. These are the endorphins which are being pumped throughout your body, also known as the feel-good hormones. Who wouldn’t want to incorporate that into their daily life or as an added bonus to their travels!?
Once released, these hormones boost self-esteem; reduce our perception of pain; reduce anxiety and depressive feelings; and reduce stress. Sign me up!
How exercise benefits the environment
Reduces carbon emissions
Any use of a motorized vehicle contributes to carbon emissions. According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, in 2015, the Oil and Gas sector was the largest contributor accounting for 26% of the Nations emissions.
While walking/running/cycling to the store would remove a fraction of carbon emissions in your day-to-day or while you travel, it is encouraging to know that by choosing to walk/run/cycle, you are not only benefiting yourself but also leaving less of a carbon footprint on the planet.
Even a simple choice to take the stairs over the elevator can be beneficial. In 2015, the electricity sector was the fourth largest source of emissions accounting for 11%.
These figures may seem massive in comparison to the contribution to those active lifestyle changes. Small changes turn to big changes resulting in a momentum shift that benefits us all. Anyone can make the choice and contribute to change. Why not start with your health?
An active lifestyle can be contagious when shared positively in a community.
4 SIMPLE STEPS TO STAYING FIT WHILE TRAVELING
It is not always easy to keep active while traveling, so I suggest starting small, by making a few conscious choices.
Schedule it / Make it a Priority
If staying fit while on the road is important to you, then it should be made a priority. Set the standard by scheduling your day around staying fit. This means prioritizing the exercise for the day.
Identify anything that results in your heart-rate pumping for longer than 30 minutes and fits it into your daily itinerary. Take advantage of whatever is around you. A long brisk walk along the beach or through a new city; a hike up a mountain or a volcano; a morning or sunset jog with some good tunes. The options are always there, you just need to open your eyes to the possibilities.
Choose Something You Enjoy Doing
Think of an activity that you enjoy doing that could provide physical exercise in the process. It could be cycling, running, walking, swimming, playing a sport, lifting weights, practicing handstands, climbing a mountain, rock climbing… you name it. The options are endless.
When you pick an activity that you actually enjoy doing, then you are more likely to stick to it. Your chances of being consistent in the long-term improve drastically.
Many major cities have a bike share program where you pay a small fee and can use a public bicycle to ride around the city. This is a great opportunity to get some exercise and see more than you ever would on foot
When you arrive in a new city, research if there is a bike share scheme available for you to use.
Use Proper Footwear
Bringing your sandals/thongs when you travel is a must! However, If worn too often, they can be harmful to your feet, knees, hips and lower back. If you are planning on being on your feet most of the day, be sure to wear appropriate footwear to support the arch of your feet.
When in doubt, Stretch
Often forgotten, yet SO very important. Stretching can prevent injuries – something you’d rather not deal with when on vacation.
Stretching is particularly important if you want to be ready for any adventure on the road. Whether taking a long flight, a swim in the river, or a 3-hour hike up the mountain, do a quick stretch before and after to keep your body limber.
Staying fit on the road is one of the biggest challenges for many travelers, but finding activities that you love to do and making them a priority, even on your travels, will result in a more active lifestyle without the dread. Amp yourself up with great music, an adventurous activity, or an accountability partner!