This is definitely one of the more challenging things to make a priority. It takes time and energy, both of which are precious commodities on your journey. However, not exercising can take its toll on your health, in the short term and long term. I run 5-6Km almost every other day and hit the gym a few times a week after work. Sure I miss spots here and there but I don’t worry about it because I’ll just pick it up the next day. In fact, I a small wave of guilt will wash through my mind if I end up missing a day or two. This is because I have committed myself to staying healthy, through diet and exercise. As travellers, we tend to have a philosophy of life is too short. (YOLO!) I agree with this, but not in the conventional way. Instead of using it as an excuse to indulge, I use it as a motivating reminder that life is indeed too short to be unhealthy… and stationary.
#1) Make it part of your “routine” before you depart
A great way to set yourself up for success, I moved in to an apartment that was close to work. This allowed me more time in the morning to run my 6km and get home to get cleaned up for work. If this isn’t an option for you, do you get an hour for lunch? Maybe that time could be better spent going for a jog and you can eat your lunch shortly after. The point is, to make this part of your life in the same way you put socks on every morning (or at least some article of clothing, and if don’t do that… well, you’re in a whole category of awesome on your own!) It doesn’t have to be intense. Maybe just a quickly paced walk every other day will get you going. You’ll be more successful if it’s a part of your lifestyle before hitting the road.
#2) It doesn’t have to be everyday
On those long travel days filled with trains, planes and automobiles it is fatiguing and the last thing you want to do. And that’s okay! Depending on your body type, level of commitment and goals it is good enough to just exercise three days a week. Just keep the habit of making it part of your downtime while travelling. It can be a great to time to collect your thoughts on what you’ve just seen and experienced as well as think up plans and ideas on where you’d like to go next. My body is on auto-pilot while my mind regroups. I like doing it every day since that is more in-line with my life goals. However, I know on the road I won’t be able to do it every day. Also, walking counts big time. If you travel like me, you walk everywhere. This is great exercise and after exploring London for five days, I’m pretty sure I lost more weight than I put on hanging out in some of the pubs!
#3) Pick exercises that doesn’t require gym equipment
You’ll need socks, shoes and at least shorts and a shirt. It will take up some extra space in your pack, but you can get the right kind of clothing for cheap and shoes that are light. There are some basic exercise you can do anywhere, but you can also be creative depending where you are and what’s available. But here are the three necessities: Running, Pushups & Situps. These three can be done anywhere any time. Maybe you run for 5mins then do 10 pushups & 10 situps. Then repeat. It’s simple and if done for only 30mins three-four times a week you’ll be helping yourself stay healthy while not in the comfort of your own home. A park bench or a few steps (as long as you’re not in the way) are great places to elevate your feet for a more challenging pushup. See a unused playground? Maybe throw in a few chin ups. Make a little routine that is easy to do anywhere. If you have an mp3 player, it’s good to keep handy too.
#4) Travelling with friends or post a notice up at the hostel
Other people to run or exercise with is great motivation. If you’re travel partner or party has a few other health nuts in there, ask them if they are interested in setting up an exercise program while on the road. They may have been thinking the same thing or already have one that you can borrow ideas from. If you’re travelling solo, some hostels have a bulletin board you can put up an add saying what time you’re going jogging and all are welcome to join. It’s a great way to meet new people, maybe see an extra part of the city and, at least when I did it in Galway Ireland. I felt like one of the locals jogging with them along the water front.
#5) Don’t hold back but be conscious of your diet
One of the best things about travelling is the cuisine. While I know that Bangkok street food doesn’t have a trans fat label it is no reason to hold back. Food is part of culture and it’s hard to say you experienced a place without trying some of the local treats. Stick to a solid routine as mentioned above and this mostly takes care of itself. Like all good things, just don’t over do it.
Bonus tip! – Find a local gym (depending on where you’re travelling) – the more middle class the more commercial gyms are available and you can usually pay for a day pass. I did this in Galway as well and loved it. I got access to a bunch of modern equipment and a huge swimming pool.
At home or while travelling, how do you stay fit?