Five Ways Travel Improves Fitness

I used to worry that all the changes involved in traveling abroad would derail my progress with fitness, dreading the thought of losing everything I worked for. Luckily, I couldn't have been more far off. Exploring a new country is a huge opportunity to get in better shape and try new foods! Your body loves it when you move around so give wanderlust a place in your health journey. Here are five reasons why travel continues to improve my health.

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1. I'm a huge proponent of touring a city by bike because it's economical, efficient, and engaging. If it weren't for my bike, I'm not sure how I would have managed to visit about three sites per day in Stockholm. I didn't have to pay for expensive taxi fares, it was faster than walking, and my itinerary was more flexible since I didn't have to rely on a bus or train schedule. I was also getting some serious cardio throughout the entire day without even trying. This built-in exercise was truly a boon during travel because it obviated the need to arrange time to go to the gym. Bikes can usually be rented at a reasonable rate and some major cities abroad even have unlockable bikes conveniently parked all over.

2. Welcome a few sets of bicep curls when your handbags grow heavy with souvenirs and emergency snacks. When I become restless due to no gym access, I honestly just start creating my own workouts. For instance, if there's a stairway outside my hotel, I'll do jump squats on them. Similarly, if there's a space by the bed to do push-ups, you better believe I'll get down there. If you really want to stay toned, especially for some nice travel photos, don't be afraid to take advantage of easy opportunities for exercise. Even a backpack full of goodies can lend itself to a weighted hike around town.

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3. Who says airports can't be a site for restoration, focus, and gentle exercise? I used to feel uneasy every time I'd have to go to an airport. It seemed like some type of purgatory where any small occurrence like a gate change could really throw me off. Nowadays, whenever something unexpected comes up, I simply take a deep breath and handle it step-by-step. Real scenarios that test your patience are excellent challenges for staying calm so use the power of diaphragmatic breathing. This tool will leave you more relaxed and mentally sharp.

4. If you're lucky enough to leave your daily routine, you may develop increased self-awareness. I become more attuned to my body's signals when my surroundings are unfamiliar. For example, I can more clearly distinguish when I'm tired as opposed to hungry: after walking around all day in Montreal, I knew when it was time for a nap as opposed to a hearty meal. By understanding the way your mind and body communicate, you can identify the cause of a psychological stress, whether it be a somatic need or an external factor.

5. Finally, it's great to be able to press the reset button when you return home. Every time I come back to San Francisco, I feel like it's a fresh start. If you feel like your previous regimen was lackluster, your homecoming is the perfect impetus to positive change.

Elizabeth Reyes