Friday, November 30, 2018

Better Fitness Through Travel

Whether you are a regular, rare, or never exerciser, exercising while travelling should be on your to-do list.  In fact, there’s no better time. Even if your travel schedule is packed, just dedicating 30 minutes to exercise will improve how healthy you feel while travelling and after.  The benefits include:

Unwinding your body from hours of sitting
Relieving spine stress from carrying luggage
Burning extra calories to make up for restaurant meals
Exploring a new type of exercise
Improving sleep (exercise always improves sleep quality)
Consider heading to your hotel gym or pool, a walking trail, a fitness studio, or renting a bike.  When it comes to hotel gyms, while they may look intimidating, they are not.  Often, they are empty which takes the pressure off of knowing what you are doing, dressing in the latest fitness wear, or looking like you are working hard on a machine.  There are rarely rules in a hotel gym.  In fact, if you forgot work-out clothes, just wear what you have. 

Start with the bike to warm up your legs, move on to the elliptical, and even try the treadmill.  Just 5-10 minutes on each piece of equipment will keep you motivated and moving.  Limiting time to less than 15 minutes per cardio machine also reduces risk of overuse injury which can happen when doing too much too soon.  Weight machines are also fun to try, just start with the lowest weights.  Don’t forget to take 5 minutes to stretch and add a few crunches for your core.  Try laying on your back and sides on the fitness ball or foam roller with arms overhead and rock back and forth for a gentle massage and stretch.  Don’t forget to hydrate!  Gyms are also usually great sources of bottled or filtered water if you don’t want to drink from the tap. 
If it is a nice day, explore your surroundings.  Ask the front desk if there is a walking trail nearby.  Lace up your sneakers, grab a water bottle, bring your phone for navigation and photos, and go.  If you are feeling energetic, try alternating walking and jogging.  Keep your eyes open for pretty sculptures, buildings and tiny parks.  You will be surprised at the beauty you find.  Reward yourself at a coffee shop on the way back!

If you choose to rent a bike, make sure the seat is high enough so your knees don’t come above hip height on the upstroke but also not so high you can’t reach the ground.  You should be comfortably sitting upright.  If you feel you are straining your back or neck, choose another bike.  The rule with all new exercise is that it should feel good.   A feeling of muscle strain and being out of breath is not necessary but is a sign you have pushed your body to a better fitness level.  You also achieve fitness benefits by breaking up an exercise session, such as riding a bike or walking to and from a destination. 

Consider trying a different fitness activity for each of the first three days of your trip. Repeat the activities you enjoyed most or even schedule in more time for them. You will end your trip healthier and energized with new enthusiasm for exercise.  Wouldn’t that be a great souvenir?