We all know how difficult it can be to stay in shape on the day-to-day but staying in shape while traveling takes some additional self-motivation. Personally speaking, one of the many reasons I travel is to taste new foods… and by taste I mean, devour at least two courses per meal so I don't miss out on anything. Add this to a crazy schedule and combine it with a lack of routine and eventually anyone's waistline will start to expand. Here are some of my favorite things to keep in shape while on the move.
Photo via @hannahbronfman
Photo via @hannahbronfman
Don't brush skipping rope off as something you did in the playground during your primary school days. Skipping is actually a great way to improve your cardiovascular health and burn calories. Not only is it easy to transport and do anywhere, but did you know that skipping for just 15-20 minutes will burn of the all the calories you consumed from that chocolate bar you just ate? It is especially great for toning and developing thighs, shins and calf muscles as well as giving a great full-body workout. Skipping ropes are sold at most sports shops and are one of the most inexpensive pieces of exercise equipment you can buy. I got my bright pink skipping rope in 2011 and it has been all over the world with me.
As a keen cyclist, I always make it my first mission to get a bike in any place I visit. Not only is cycling a great workout but when you are in a new place it's so much cooler and cost-effective to see the sites by bicycle. It's not uncommon for cyclists to have extremely toned legs and with the correct form it can also be great for toning your upper body, thereby giving you a balanced tone.
A study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that bike riding improved energy levels by 20 percent and decreased fatigue by 65 percent. Why? Cycling triggers your brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is linked to energy, says lead author Patrick O'Connor, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at the University of Georgia at Athens. So jump on your bike to increase your energy and explore!
I wouldn't call myself a yogi but I do enjoy the benefits of yoga and have recently purchased my own travel yoga mat. It’s perfect because it folds neatly into a small square making it great for travel so I can do yoga anywhere I find a flat surface. The great thing about yoga is that it is known all around the world and with some research, it wouldn't be difficult to find a class wherever you are (unless you're in a tiny town called Skagway in Alaska; no-one does yoga there. Trust me. I’ve tried.).
Photo by @ownbyfemme
Photo by @ownbyfemme
If showing up at random classes isn't your thing, you can always download some yoga apps and find a beautiful park in which to practice alone with nature. If you've traveled to Asia, you may be familiar with those 12-hour bus journeys and being 5’11” I haven't found them to be the most comfortable. Doing yoga is great for flexibility, perfecting your posture and loosening your limbs so knowing a few stretches to do before you reluctantly put on your overweight backpack back is unquestionably just what the doctor ordered.
Personally I would love it if free weights could also become weightless for travel as I'm one of those “strong-is-sexy" believers. Seeing as this isn't possible yet, resistance bands are a great way to challenge every major muscle group in your body. When I am doing a full body workout I make sure I include push and pull movements for both my legs and core. With a resistance band, I can find exercises for each. They are great because they target the full range of motion making them beneficial for flexibility and of course, because they can be easily stuffed into your handbag to work out the kinks those times when you chose to sleep in an airport to save money on accommodation.
If like me, sometimes you just want to dance and get really sweaty… you should definitely find a Zumba class wherever you're heading. Just like yoga, Zumba is known worldwide and by searching the internet you should be able to find a class near you. Zumba has many benefits including burning around 750 calories per class, improving coordination, toning your entire body and not to mention, you'll have tons of fun doing it! It is much more than a workout; it’s a party and with the right instructor it provides a relief from all the stresses of traveling.
So just like in your day-to-day life, when on the road, you should also prioritize exercise. It might help if you plan ahead. I make sure my workouts are written down and most importantly, that my iPod playlist has all my "go hard or go home" tunes. We are blessed that we have the internet and can use it to source workouts if we haven't got the knowledge. Apps are also a great resource, there are a lot of free ones you can download that can keep track of your workouts (like one of our favorites, Nike Training Club). Even if it's just 30 minutes per day, staying active will allow you to eat your double scoop of gelato in Italy feeling guilt-free.