No matter the destination or length of your trip, staying active can be difficult. It’s easy to become preoccupied by the novelty of a new country leaving exercise lower on the list of your priorities.
Try not to let it get too far down. Despite the obvious health benefits of working out, you may also happen upon a popular, local workout class and as a bonus, meet new people in the process. From my experience navigating the ins and outs of staying active and maintaining a sense of routine abroad, I will share three ideas that may help you do the same or inspire different ideas that are congruent to your personal exercise habits.
- Run: If you are Type A (like me), then you know the best ideas are the ones that kill two birds with one stone. Running is not only a low maintenance activity, but it is also a great way to explore and get a lay of the land. For shorter stays, it’s a great way to see areas that you might not during everyday activities. When I was in Cambodia last fall, I was only there for about a week and didn’t stay in the same place for more than a few days. If I hadn’t taken time to go for those runs, I wouldn’t have discovered a beautiful riverside view or a narrow dirt road that opened up into a peaceful running path. For longer stays, like my time in Thailand or the Philippines (pictures below), it’s fun to get to know the area, establish different running routes, and even set goals for yourself. I am not a serious runner, so I usually decide what I’m up for after I wake up. I do always make sure to switch up my routine a bit between running longer at more consistent paces, running intervals, and sprinting. I know this probably goes without saying, but make sure to ask someone who knows the area well if there are any parts that should be avoided and always make sure to tell someone when you leave.
Here are a couple pictures from my own runs:
- Keep an Open Mind: While you walk around and explore, look around.You won’t regret it. Who knows what you could be missing out on. Make sure you don’t limit yourself. You may discover activities you may not expect, but that’s a good thing! Whether it’s a formal or informal workout class, you are still being active! Personally, I have experienced different kinds of formal activities such as Laughter Yoga (on that, I could write an entire article), a Bollywood Zumba Class, and as pictured below, an outdoor dance class. Other times though, I have found myself running around out of breath outside of formal exercise. Amongst impromptu hikes in Mongolia, evening walks in Thailand, and biking on the side of a highway en route to Angkor Wat in Cambodia (s/o to Mary Hill), my fondest memories are from my time spent in India. My two younger (host) sisters, Kati and Aditi, had me running around playing tag, teaching them how to do a proper squat, and playing badminton with them before they left for school in the morning. The most important thing I have learned from my travels, is to say yes! You never know when you will get the opportunity to do whatever it is again, so go for it, no matter how silly or small it may seem at the time.
- At Home Exercises: If there is one thing I know to be true, it is that traveling is unpredictable. You never know what the day will bring. Sometimes you wake up to hear the sound of rain, or you didn’t have a great night sleep. Whatever it may be, there is always a way to squeeze in a bit of exercise. With a wall and a flat surface, you can engage in a number of great exercises such as squats, crunches, planks, wall sits, you name it!
At the end of the day, just have fun!
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