How to sustain and be creative with a fitness regime while traveling (Part 2)
Welcome back my health conscious wanderlusters,
As mentioned in my previous blog I have been traveling for 7 months, and during this time of moving from one destination to another, I have understood the importance of maintaining a diverse fitness regime through certain preparation steps.
During your travels this is when being physically active will bring you more enjoyment and adventure. Not only in your everyday leisure activities, but will provide you with the opportunity to experience a your new location in a unique way. This just involves being more creative with your surroundings at times, whereby you are able to maintain the more ‘traditional’ forms of exercise, as well as discovering other fun ways of being active ANYWHERE you travel.
Through these simple suggestions you will able to ‘Live in the moment’ and will make returning back home to your normal fitness routine that much easier.
1.Sunrise or sunset run/walk/cycle
One of my first enquiries when I arrive at a new destination is “Are there any long distance routes available nearby either in the park, on the road, coastal or trail?”, and if there is no knowledge of a route I will investigate this myself through scoping out the area or utilising the application called Mapmyrun.com as mentioned in my previous blog.
Going for a run/walk/cycle in a new destination is one of my favourite ways of exploring the area. Especially as I am a morning person, seeing the sunrise on a new day provides with so much energy, happiness, elevates my mood, ability to appreciate the quietness of the day, and connect with myself. I also feel that I am productively utilising my day by rising early, which influences how the rest of my days unfolds with increased focus.
If you are a morning person then make it a priority to not give yourself the chance to fall into holiday mode. For myself, I make sure that I have my alarm clock set prior to sunrise to give myself enough time to wake up and get ready by placing my running shoes at the door the night before and having my clothes, camelbak, and earphones laid out for me, ready to grab without having to scramble around for these.
If you are more of an evening workout person it is also vital to put the measures in place to ensure that you make your sunset run/walk/cycle a priority in your day. This involves being conscientious about the time if you are out and about to either return back to your room in time to get changed for your workout, or if you know that you will be out until the time that you need to get ready to enjoy your evening buzz session then be sure to carry the clothing and shoes that you need for your run/walk/cycle to easily change into. If you are an evening person be sure to finish working out at least 2 hours prior to heading to bed as exercising can interfere with your sleep as your adrenaline is still high, and your blood and mind is still pumping making it hard for you to wind down.
2. Get in touch with nature
A few hours, half a day or a full day hike can leave you with tremendous benefits and be one of the most rewarding activities while on holidays letting you see a different part of the environment then just the city. Back at home my weekend hikes with my friends made me blissfully happy because what could be better than being in good company, reconnecting to nature and yourself…and best of all this was one of the most cost-effective days out.
Virtually every destination that you travel to will have gorgeous scenic hiking trails that will let you explore what mother nature has to offer. This may not be at your door step and perhaps may take a bit of time to travel to, however, the reward will be astounding for your physical and mental well-being.
In terms of physical benefits of hiking this ranges from the obvious of increasing ones fitness, which is mostly achieved by heading for the hills. Through challenging yourself with hills this burns more calories, tones the whole body (especially your lower body…look out buns of steel), increases your stamina and endurance, especially if you take on the extra challenge of carrying a weighted backpack and taking on some larger rocks to climb over. In addition, hiking increases your cardiovascular health, reduces the risk of diabetes through lowering your blood sugar levels as the exercise itself moves the glucose from your bloodstream for energy, and also decreases blood pressure and cholesterol.
As mentioned above, hiking also has wonderous advantages for your mental well-being as this can be used as a great social activity forming greater bonds between current or new friends that you may find on your travels making you more committed to the workout and including this in your lifestyle. It has also been discovered that if you wish to get your creative juices flowing than hiking could be your answer instead of staying sedentary. In addition, hiking can increase ones attention span and problem solving skills.
Hiking also gives us a natural high and helps relive depression, stress and anxiety as the actual exercise and being out in nature has a positive effect on our hormones such as oxytocin which is the hormone that is released into the blood when we get a nice warm hug. There is also the increase in dopamine, which is a pleasure chemical that is normally associated when having an orgasm and increase serotonin levels, which is the chemical that is in charge of happiness, restful sleep and healthy appetite. And last but not least, hiking is a great opportunity to truly connect with nature and yourself through disengaging with our everyday lives and technology to bring a sense of peace and tranquility by just being in the moment.
3. Increase the intensity through HIIT – a workout you can do anywhere and anytime
While traveling there have been times when I, and also yourself, will encounter that the option of completing a cardio workout such as a run, walk, hike, or cycling is not as readily available potentially because you are a bit time poor, the surrounding areas are not as pleasant or safe to go for an outdoor cardio session, or the weather is not on your side…but this does not give you the opportunity to just disregard the potential to workout.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is one of the most effective forms of exercise to gain the result that you desire, but the best news is that these can most of the time be performed with little or no equipment, for as much time as you have available (5 minutes is better than nothing), can be done anytime, and can be completed ANYWHERE from the local park to your hotel room.
HIIT involves giving yourself 110% all out in quick, intense burst of exercise allowed by short sometimes active recovery periods. This form of exercise can be very quick, allowing your body to use every muscle group providing you with building your strength, endurance, agility, muscles, tendons, joints, motivation making you stronger so that you will be able to enjoy all the activities that you wish while traveling. The extra benefit trough HIIT you will burn more calories in a shorter span of time and also for up to 2 hours after you finish exercising leading to better body composition and definition.
As previously mentioned HIIT can be performed ANYWHERE and it just involves being creative with the space that is provided as I personally have used park benches to do elevated push ups, a chair for triceps dips, held my own back pack for overhead squat thrusts. In conjunction with creating my own HIIT workout mix it up a bit, I also enjoy using the SWORKIT app that I mentioned in my previous article because this provides videos of the workouts, allows me to choose the type of workout I would like to perform that day, the time that I have available and also lets me create customised programs. However, if you do not have the opportunity or capacity to utilise this applications n I have found these resources to provide effective programs; Fitness Blender Cardio HIIT Workout and Mind Body Green HIIT workouts
4. Increase your flexibility with Yoga and Stretching
Yoga and stretching are not only useful for flexibility, however, one of their advantages is that they are great ways of increasing our flexibility so that we are able to improve our ability in other physical activities, decrease the risk of injury by allowing your joints to move through their full range of motion with more ease, and also enable your muscles to work more efficiently and effectively.
Both yoga and stretching can be done just about anytime and anywhere similar to that of HIIT exercises as discussed above. All you need is a yoga mat (I recommend the Manduka Eco Superlite Travel Mat) and enough room to lay this out comfortably. If you do not have a yoga mat with you don’t worry as you can always compromise with a towel or even a sarong, which I have used in the past and are also super lightweight as well perfect for traveling.
Yoga has tremendous benefits for the physical body and can be quite a workout, which I know from sweating like a pig during some intense sessions. But similar to many other workouts, yoga also aids our mental well-being and has the potential of going a step further bringing us the spiritual connection that we may be seeking. The asanas used in the yoga practice are used as a tool to bring us towards enlightenment, as these poses have the power of increasing our concentration, which is used when we surrender ourselves to meditation.
There are numerous schools of yoga practices from traditional Hatha yoga, to Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Stand Up Paddle Boarding Yoga, Tantra Yoga, and many more. A quick side note here is that if you have found that yoga has not connected with you at the start then don’t be disappointed frustrated because personally the first time I tried yoga I did not like it at all, so instead I left it for a year and then tried it again. The second time I tried a yoga practice it just clicked for me…but perhaps for you it might never be your forte, and is perfectly fine. Just remember to never push yourself into something that you do not find enjoyment in because there will always be other ways on coming to the same solution and loving it at the same time.
As mentioned in my previous post I have found that the All-In Yoga application is one of my favourite apps when I am traveling and do not have access to a yoga studio, allowing me to indulge in my own personal practice and own space However, if you do not have access to using an application then check out Yoga Journal, that I have found to be a useful resource not only for Yoga practices but is also a great resource for articles, information on lifestyle, providing you with inspiration, and also excellent for those that are or already in the business fo yoga teaching.
It is imperative to never forget the importance of stretching within your workout because once you do incorporate this activity into your workout, and potentially practice a few stretching techniques on a daily basis, you will see the vast improvements. As mentioned above stretching is great for increasing your flexibility and exploring your full range of motion which is so important as we get older because unfortunately our muscles do get tighter and we no longer are as limber as we were once upon a time. Stretching also is exceptionally beneficial to increase our blood circulation to our muscles and joints aiding blood purification and the removal of our waste product. Adopting a regular stretching program also has the benefit of aiding our overall well-being as performing these exercises it relieves tension in our muscles and overall stress in our body and mind.
5. Create your own travel photo tour
Some people may have the impression that taking photographs while traveling detracts from your travel experience as you are not being in the moment and only viewing what is happening around you through a lens. To an extent I do agree as I do not believe that you should take a zillion photographs of everything. Also, to be honest at times the photograph does not do the view and the moment justice, so at these particular times you really just have to be still and take it all in. Take a mental picture which also involves what is occurring in the external surroundings and what you are feeling at that current moment.
On the other hand, I do strongly believe that taking photographs while traveling has enhanced my experiences because not only can I look back at these photographs and reminisce over the wonderful memories that were created whilst traveling, but this also inspires me to get out each day to discover a new area or do something different where I am staying. A little trick that I have adopted while traveling is at the end of each day I send the photographs to my email documenting the date, where the photographs were taken and adding in any special notes. This is so that I do not look back at the photographs and wonder “where was that taken and what was that?!”
Photography is a real art form and even if you ave not received professional training and do not own a DSLR camera this does not mean that you can not take stunning photographs. On the contrary, you are still able to take beautiful photographs on your smartphone or small point and shoot camera as photography is more than just the fancy camera. It is about being aware of your surroundings and to be creative with the lighting, composition, and being able to move accordingly to capture the right angle. Here are some sources that will motivate you to wonder the various areas of your next destination and provide you with plenty of walking without even noticing it. Plus these sources are helpful in developing your own style in travel photography, and who knows your photograph might just end up on the next issue of National Geographic. Check out Yonderbound, National Georgraphic, Conde Nast Traveler, and iPhone Photography School.
6. Take advantage of all types of tours
Wherever you travel to you will have the opportunity to engage either in a walking tour or a cycling tour. Whether you are walking through the remote villages of Spain, cycling through the cobbled stone streets of Florence, or exploring the mountain ranges of Dharamshala, some of the most memorable moments can be made through exploring the location either by foot or by bike, because both will provide you with the opportunity to gain your daily exercise in a fun new way, get fresh air, and see things in a new perspective.
The marvelous thing about walking and cycling is that you can choose to do this independently or within a tour group, one that suits your physical capacbilities and also one that suits your interest. At times the tours can come at a price if they are through an organised tour company, however, I have come across Feel Free Tours which has organised free walking tours around the world providing you with amazing information about each place. In addition, there are also multiple independent companies operating free bike tours around the world which can be found just through doing a bit of research. Or if are feeling in the mood to just go out and explore without the constraints of time or location pick up a map from the local tourist information point, put on your walking shoes and either go on foot or rent a bicycle (some places have free bicycles to use for the day), and pick your starting point to head out for the day.
7. Become culturally involved
Traveling is not just about jumping from one destination to another destination, ticking off the box to say that you have been there, but have not actually experienced what the place has to offer you. Most people travel to a different country to learn about the history, community and culture in an enjoyable and educational fashion. Learning about these aspects do not only come through obtaining information on the politics, history, social interactions of the locals, art, and ceremonies, furthermore we can go beyond this by exploring the physical activities that the country is famous for and what the local community engages in that can enhance your travel experience.
Through engaging in these type of activities we are still able to gain some exercise, however, you will not feel like this is exercise because you will be engaging in new experiences that will make you appreciate the practice more and develop new memories. So why not try out activities such as Estactic Dance in Bali, learn Bollywood Dancing in India, go surfing at the beaches of Lisbon, or go white water rafting down the rapids of New Zealand.
Remember that with the preparation from my previous blog combined with the suggestions above on how to manage a creative fitness regime that is diverse in just getting you up and moving is the key, and the most important decision you will make. I hope that you have taken at least one piece of advice to help you move forward in your next trip and life.
Please feel free to comment or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.