Traveling can play havoc on our personal fitness routines. After all, it’s kind of hard to keep up with that weekly gym schedule if you’re traveling somewhere they don’t have gyms. Adding to that the fact that you’ll often be quite busy site seeing, adventuring, or sampling a variety of tasty, exotic foods and it’s no wonder personal fitness falls by the wayside.
The good news for most people is that merely by traveling and being on the road, they are more active; hence burning more calories than you would sitting at home or in the office. Just that simple fact alone allows you to sample more wonderful foods and beverages without necessarily putting on unwanted pounds. There are limits to that kind of indulgence of course, but more importantly, there is a lot more to fitness than merely not gaining weight.
Personal motivation and goals plays an important factor in whether a person chooses to exercise when on the road. It actually takes more dedication to stay fit while traveling than it does as home because you have to look for creative outlets to exercise. You probably won’t have access to a fancy gym or fitness equipment, in fact you may even have to create your own.
For example, when I went through yoga teacher training in northern Thailand, the one areawhere I found it very challenging to maintain fitnesswas in keeping up strength for rock climbing. The yoga of course, was terrific for flexibility, but I found the strength aspects of it were highly focused on pushing type exercises. I struggled to find routines that would address the many pulling types of muscles that I use for scaling vertical to overhanging rock faces. With a little effort and creativity, I managed it however.
10 Strategies and Tips to Stay Fit While Traveling
If you take a moment to examine your surroundings, you might be amazed at the number of fitness opportunities all around you. It just takes some time and effort to look for them. If you find yourself relaxing on a warm sandy beach somewhere, try running wind sprints or longer runs. The soft sand is not only cushioning, but also an incredible resistance source and will have most of us sucking air in no time.
Beaches are also a great place to practice yoga and gymnastics. If you’re trying to perfect those challenging Yoga inversions such as headstands, handstands or Scorpion; beach sand is pretty forgiving. I’ve found that some activities in the sand also tend to tighten my calves, so I usually end by doing some stretching exercises such as downward-facing dog. Here is a short list of a few things you might try to stay fit on the road:
- Gyms – Look for gyms you can use in hotels, airports, community recreation centers or similar. If you’re traveling super light and sleeping on trains or buses, paying a drop in fee is usually cheap and gives you access to showers and clean up facilities. The beaches in some places such as Rio de Janeiro or Tel Aviv have these great little (and free) workout stations dotted up and down the boardwalk you can use.
- Use Your Pack – Your backpacks and luggage can make great free weights. As an example, you can add or remove various contents and use them for single arm curls, triceps extensions, seated military presses (deltoids), wrist curls and more. Use this or a daypack for shoulder flys depending on size and weight.
- Get Creative – Look for other items such as five gallon gas/water containers, heavy scuba gear or buckets you can fill with water or sand to adjust the weight.
- Take the Stairs – Try not to take elevators, escalators or motorized transportation if you can walk up stairs or hills. Avoid going downhill if you can to save wear and tear on your knees. In urban areas, I often run the stairs in high-rise buildings. I try to run up, take the elevator down and repeat.
- Check Your Surroundings – Look for places where you can do pull-ups and dips with a variety of grip widths. Sometimes even a heavy duty doorframe works, but usually you’ll need strong fingers to accomplish them here. Tree branches, playgrounds, construction sites (use caution) and many other places often have someplace where it’s possible to do pull-ups.Sometimes dive boats have metal framed canopies where you can do pull-ups.
- Go Old School – All those basic exercises you learned in grade school still work almost anywhere. Do push-ups with varying hand widths for your pecs and triceps. If you’re feeling strong, you can try doing handstand push-ups upside down against a wall for your triceps.
- Chairs – Find two chairs and position yourself between them to do dips or deep push-ups. Lie on the floor with your feet on the seat to do sit-ups and other ab work.
- Swim – Go swimming whenever possible and use it for wind sprints as well as longer and slower paced cardio workouts. Do underwater resistance exercises and calisthenics. Watch for obstacles, waves, currents and marine life out in the ocean though.
- Rubber Resistance Bands – One of the only things I ever bring along specifically for exercise, are those little rubber stretch bands. They are super light, don’t take up much space, can occasionally be used for wrapping loose items and possibly even a small clothes line for hanging light items to dry.
- Join a Sporting Activity with Locals – Ask if you can join a local pickup game of soccer, basketball or whatever you can find. This is also a great way to make new friends and learn about local events or eateries.
The possibilities for exercise and fitness are virtually endless out there. Try to get in the habit of looking for opportunity everywhere. Make a game of it. Try not to be self-conscious doing fitness activities out in public. Have fun with it and invite others to participate if you’d like. You might make some new friends and learn a thing or two in the process.