Travel is about gorging on local junk food, drowning your liver in cheap beer, and leaving that boring fitness program behind, right?
Not in my eyes.
From preparing for tough mountain climbs to handling stressful situations that arise during my trips, travel fitness has made the difference between good and amazing travel.
The benefits of travel fitness are the same as at home, but you need these perks more during travel. Think about it: You’re in unfamiliar, potentially stressful places. Your mind, body, and immune system are put to the test as you learn the lay of the land, sample local cuisine, and tackle activities that might be more strenuous than what you’re used to.
You want to be able to have fun, see the sights, and enjoy various activities without the worry of fatigue or sickness. Travel fitness lets you do just that. Here are some benefits that you’ll enjoy when you stay fit while traveling:
Boost Your Energy
Running from airport to bus terminal, going on full-day tours, and sticking to an overpacked schedule is going to drain you. Coffee will only get you so far. Taking time to eat healthy meals, perform a quick workout, and get a bit of sunshine can support energy levels throughout the day. You’ll also sleep better at night, feeling recharged and ready to go the next day.
Prepare for Adventure
Travel workouts can help you conquer difficult excursions and activities such as scuba diving, bicycle tours, or hiking mountains. Whether you perform bodyweight exercises in a hotel room or use resistance bands at a local park, you’ll maintain and even increase your strength and endurance. I used a resistance-band workout in Cusco, Peru to prepare to hike the Salkantay trail, which reaches over 15,000 feet. I made it to the top without an issue, but I watched as many people had to stop and rent a mule to make it over the summit.
Avoid Getting Sick
Traveling to a new country can expose you to a variety of unfamiliar and unfriendly bacteria, dramatic temperature swings, and local illnesses. Typically, your body and immune system need time to adjust. The last thing you want is to be laid up in bed during vacation. Studies show that proper nutrition and regular exercise can increase your immune response, helping you to avoid getting sick while traveling.
Don’t Lose Progress on Your Fitness Goals
Whether you’re chasing a leaner physique or training for a sport, you shouldn’t abandon your progress because you’re traveling. Travel fitness allows you to advance or maintain your fitness goals while having fun. Exercise burns extra calories and good nutrition results in more energy. Once you return home, you’ll have an easier transition back to your normal exercise and diet program.
Manage Stress, Stay in a Good Mood
Stress comes with the territory of traveling. Eventually, every traveler will go through the giant headache of a flight being canceled, getting lost, or running up against a language barrier. Studies show that daily exercise and a clean diet are fundamental to supporting mental health and alleviating stress. I also recommend deep-breathing exercises; one of the many benefits of meditation is stress reduction.
How to Stay Fit While Traveling
The three most important factors in travel fitness are nutrition, exercise, and recovery:
Nutrition: There’s nothing quite like being hangry (hungry and angry) while dealing with customer service at the airline that lost your bag. A full-day city tour after junk food binging? Forget it. Eating healthy, whole-food meals while traveling will boost physical energy, improve immunity, and support cognitive function.
Exercise: You don’t need a seven-day gym routine, but make the effort to stay active during your travels through exercise and adventure activities. This can help you maintain or advance your fitness progress, strengthen your immune system, and prepare for difficult excursions such as a strenuous hike.
Recovery: Taking the time to get proper sleep, treating yourself to a sauna and massage, and not letting stress overwhelm you can make a dramatic difference in your travel experience. Proper rest and recovery leads to improved immunity, better mood, and more brain power.
Can You Think of Any Other Benefits of Travel Fitness?
Are there any benefits of travel fitness that I missed? Have you experienced any of these benefits for yourself? Let me know in the comments below.