About The Author: Cal Bailey runs Mountain Leon – a travel blog he started after two years on backpacking around the world. If you want to learn more about life on the road or his blogging, you can read his latest blog posts.
Those who take their health and fitness seriously will usually have a few concerns over maintenance on the road. Traveling means frequently changing environments, and your usual workout routine may not fit in with these too well. Staying fit while traveling usually requires forward thinking. Given that it will be difficult to predict which fitness options youâll have in new places, it helps to have an extended repertoire that will be compatible with various situations.
If youâre anything like me, letting your fitness slip doesnât make you feel good. Regular exercise ensures youâre adept at handling physical challenges on your travels; it also keeps the endorphins flowing and the mood high. When youâre fit, you feel strong, healthy and ready to deal with anything. Thatâs a great state to be in on the road.
The following suggestions will help you stay on top of your fitness game while traveling:
Whether youâre already into yoga or not, at the very least take a yoga mat traveling with you. You can buy lightweight yoga mats designed for this purpose, some of which weigh little more than 1kg. A yoga mat is a great accessory for all kinds of workouts, and can even double up as a temporary bed if you find yourself in any unexpected travel complications!
Unless youâre wandering far from the beaten track, there should be a few yoga classes happening on your travels. After all, yoga is one of the worldâs most popular fitness activities. Itâs a great way to meet people too. Remember that yoga centre mats can get a little tired and smelly (especially in hot climates), so youâll be glad to have your own mat.
With practice, yoga can make your body incredibly strong, toned and flexible. Itâs also a meditative activity, so it will help you to breeze your way through travel related challenges as they arise. As you can do it practically anywhere you can fit a mat, yoga is one of the most travel-friendly fitness activities there is.
If youâre into gym-style fitness routines like circuit training, boot camp classes or high intensity interval training (HIIT), you are probably wondering how youâll maintain this while traveling. As class environments are very motivating, the thought of practicing your own routine might seem a little dull.
If you want to keep motivated, it may really help to download a fitness course that you can do via your phone or laptop. Having a routine that changes every day will keep things interesting, as will having an instructor on the screen to hold your attention.
There are some great apps you can download that have various fitness courses to follow. You can also download videos from YouTube ahead of your travels â it can be fun to build your own routine this way, and you wonât have to worry about finding a local gym or fitness centre in each town.
If your usual fitness routine involves lifting weights, you are probably going to want to maintain the shape youâve worked hard to build. Although there may not be accessible gyms in every place you stop, you can pre-book hotels with built-in gyms where possible. However, that may not be viable on a regular basis, so it helps to know how to use your own body weight to develop muscle mass.
Most muscles can be exercised through careful body positioning. Think planks, tricep dips on chair edges, press-ups, squats, and lunges. You might be able to do pull-ups on door frames, and crunches and sit-ups are always doable. Note down a few simple bodyweight workout routines in your phone and follow them intermittently to work out different muscle groups, and to keep things interesting.
If youâre really missing your free weights, improvise with easy-to-acquire local products. Fill a sturdy bag or two with sand from the beach and use these as weights. Five-litre water bottles also work a treat when full. For example, hold one of these out in front of you when squatting to build quads and arm muscles.
If youâre traveling in cities around the world, you should be able to find plenty of workout options. There will be gyms, yoga centres, fitness classes both indoors and outdoors, and people looking to buddy up for runs around parks etc. It is a good idea to join local backpacker and expat groups on Facebook for each area youâre planning to visit.
This is one of the easiest ways to find out what is going on in your chosen destinations, as you can ask specific questions according to your interests. Local fitness centres and teachers often advertise their classes in these groups too, so you will probably find new and interesting activities to try out too, which is all part of the fun when traveling. Fun new fitness activities are more motivating than the same old routine, and youâll make plenty of friends in the process.
You donât need to pre-plan all your workouts in order to stay fit. If youâre just interested in maintaining a reasonable fitness level, you can do so by making mindful choices each day. For instance, instead of taking the lift, take the hotel stairs each time. Instead of taking a bus, walk if you can, or hire a bicycle and take the scenic route to your destination.
Add a few hikes into your travel agenda here and there. Take a jog around a lake instead of a stroll. Do a few lengths each day in the pool instead of just lounging in the sun. When planning out your days each week, incorporate one or two challenging activities that will get your heart racing. Things like kayaking, trekking, climbing and zip lining will all bring on a sweat. Check out activities in each area and youâre bound to find something that appeals.
It is all too easy to slip into less healthy routines when traveling. Maybe you donât have a yoga mat handy, or the sun is so hot in the morning that your usual run is out of the question. Before you know it, youâre repeatedly postponing your exercise routine and then one day, itâs a distant memory.
Dedicate some time to fitness each day or every few days. For example, just thirty minutes of HIIT every other day will keep you in excellent shape throughout your trip, and it wonât even make a dent in your schedule. The more fun your workout routine is, the less discipline will be required, so think ahead and youâll take the âworkâ part out of it.
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