Over the years my job has afforded me a fair amount of travel, both domestic and international, for business and pleasure. As I’ve grown older, even the excitement of being in a new place and looking forward to new experiences has not over-ridden the toll that travel takes, both physically and mentally.
Travel for work can be taxing. You spend long flights sitting in cramped spaces. You wait at the other end in long taxi queues. Then you’re in the hotel eating hotel food, probably not getting great sleep, and likely sitting in meetings all day. Living in Australia, we feel it more than many – I love our country but I’m brutally reminded that we are stuck out in the middle of nowhere every-time I hop on a 14 hour flight to LA or San Fran.
While traveling for work can be enjoyable and productive, and hopefully profitable, it’s not always good for your health. Most people find it a real challenge to eat healthy, get good sleep, and to move their body and exercise while traveling.
Holiday travel really isn’t much different. Sure, you’re going someplace that you’ve chosen and hopefully you don’t have to wear a tie or a suit. However, you’re still in an unfamiliar place where you may not move as much as you should, eat as healthy as you could, or sleep as well as you’d like to. A 47 hour transit from Sydney via Japan and Germany to Casablanca is not my ideal way to start a holiday. I clearly got the travel agent on a bad day!
Sleep, nutrition, and movement are all important factors in how you feel physically as well as mentally and emotionally. You’ll have a better business trip and a better vacation if you can fit some exercise (and some healthy food) into your trip. I never travel now without work-out gear and running shoes.
You know you can have a salad instead of a hamburger at lunch, and you know that one cocktail is better for you than three. (I know – none is better than one – but hey I’m a realist). You probably also have some tricks in your bag for how to get enough sleep at night in a hotel as well. So let’s start by talking a bit more in depth about why it’s important to exercise while you travel, and how to make it enjoyable and effective.
Reasons to Exercise When Travelling
Improves energy and blasts jet lag.
Jet lag is a real thing. It’s your body trying to adapt to a new time zone and your circadian rhythms struggling to adjust.
It is often hindered by dehydration (we forget to drink enough water when we travel), lack of sleep, and not moving your body. If you exercise, perhaps even on that first full day you’re on your trip, you’ll adapt more quickly to the new time zone and schedule. Getting outside in the fresh air is also helpful. When I land in San Fran I love to get up into Muir Woods – fresh air, nature, beautiful scenery. It not only helps the body adjust but is also great for the soul. I always allow the extra day on business trips to make sure I get this in.
Diminishes the impact of all that restaurant food.
Exercise helps your body use the fat and calories you’re consuming. I’m sure that many ofus will add something into our meals that’s not in our normal health regime. For me a big part of travel is the local culture and that definitely includes the food – which may not always fit in with my normal eating habits. Take for instance Italy – I’m not a carbivore – but when in Rome…….
Exercising in the mornings will help alleviate the damage.
Helps you stay busy during down times.
What do you do between meetings? If you’re like many, you head back to your room, you sit on the bed and you watch television or perhaps you hop online and surf the Internet.
Now, no one is suggesting that you miss Game of Thrones even when you’re on vacation or a business trip. What is being suggested, however, is that you spend some of that time in your room moving your body and exercising. It’s more productive, positive, and beneficial.
Lets you enjoy and tour a community in a different way.
While you absolutely can exercise in your hotel room, you can also get out of that room and see the city that you’re in. Exercise supports you to explore parks, enjoy new running or hiking trails, and visit new gyms.
For example, if you CrossFit, then you can be a guest at any gym around the world. You can meet new people and see how their gym is different than yours (and get a good workout). If you trail run, you can hop on mapmyrun.com and look up popular trails in the community.
A recent conference I attended in San Fran included a Charity fun run the morning before sessions. What a great experience – running over the Golden Gate Bridge with thousands of others early in the morning!
Helps you enjoy better sleep.
We’ve already mentioned that sleep helps you feel more positive, focused, and productive during your trips. You’ll just have a better time if you’ve gotten some quality sleep. Exercise supports you to get quality sleep.
Improves your mood (especially if you don’t like to travel).
Personally I love travel and am always a bit suprised when I come across people who don’t just not like it – but actually HATE it! But variety makes the world go round right?
It’s been proven time and time again that exercise boosts mood. It releases endorphins, natural mood boosters, and puts a smile on your face. Whether you’re on vacation or traveling for business, who doesn’t like to be in a good mood?
Improves mental energy and cognition (important for business trips).
Exercise increases blood flow. This is because your muscles need oxygen to break down sugar for energy, and your blood carries oxygen to your tissues.
Because your circulation system is a complete system this also means that blood flow is increasing to your brain, not just the muscles that you’re using. Increased blood flow to your brain is a good thing! You’ll have more mental clarity and focus.
Gets you out of the hotel (if you want to).
We’ve already mentioned that you can exercise in your room and we’ll talk about how and offer some tips. However, if you’re itching to get out of yourroom, then exercise is the perfect excuse. You can try out the hotel pool, hit the nearby trails, or go to a gym.
Can be convenient.
There are many workouts you can do right in the comfort of your room or the hotel’s gym, which means that exercising can be quick and easy. You can readily fit it into any available time pocket that you might have.
Do you travel, either for work or pleasure? How do you fit exercise into your trips and does it make you feel better? Share your thoughts.
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