Dwarf tossing, bog snorkelling or unicycle riding may be options which you are considering to help you keep fit and active whilst travelling or otherwise. They are not all politically correct or convenient and therefore keeping fit on your travels maybe something which needs a little extra thinking about
If you are currently trekking over the Annapurna Circuit or the GR20, cycling in New Zealand or sea kayaking around the Falkland Islands, I am jealous and you probably do not consider that you need to be worried about your fitness.
If however your only form of exertion is racing across the market for that special leather handbag or unwrapping a takeaway chimichanga then chances are your favourite Speedos or little black dress are not so popular anymore! Many of us enjoy mooching around towns and villages, browsing markets, lazing on the beach and sipping sangrias at the poolside however they are not exactly conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Even those participating in an active pursuit need to be aware that their chosen activity is only toning certain muscles and may need a little supplementary exercise.
“Every beach I have ever visited has an attached body of water”
How do we manage to get an effective workout on our travels then? Swimming is an excellent option; a great all body workout and most destinations have swimming pools and then there is always the beach. Every beach I have ever visited has an attached body of water, known locally as the sea; ideal for swimming in.
Hiring a bike is usually possible, going for a run or long walk are obvious choices with varying degrees of popularity. Not everybody has experienced the ‘runners high’ and the release of endorphins it produces and some will never be convinced! It may take a little imagination and a bit of searching for but it is always possible to find an activity which you can participate in and enjoy.
This is actually the key to success, if you choose an exercise regime that you do not enjoy it is extremely unlikely it will meet with any lasting success. Find an activity you enjoy and it will be much easier to motivate yourself when you are not really feeling like exercising. Better still if you are travelling with a friend/partner, then find an activity you both enjoy and do it together, no I am not going there, today is clean post day!
Hopefully you are still a relatively active person. However just in case if you have not been involved in an exercise regime for some time, and/or are over forty-five years of age, have a history of heart disease or are pregnant (congratulations) please seek the medical advice before undertaking any fitness programme.
“resort hotels will often have a free fitness centre”
Most gymnasiums have the option of short term membership allowing travellers only staying for a week or two to use their facilities. The disadvantages of this are that it can become expensive, will likely take up too large a chunk of your day and each gymnasium will require you to undergo an initiation session to ensure you can use their facilities safely. This will become irritating if you are on an extended trip. Top resort hotels will often have a free fitness centre as part of its facilities which will keep the costs down at least, few hostels will however.
It is very easy to improvise an exercise programme however when you are travelling, we have all seen films where the ‘hero’ works out on the hotel floor. There are many exercises that can be done free standing or with an easily available ‘prop’ such as a chair. Push-ups; on the floor, with the feet or hands raised, abdominal crunches, dorsal raises, reverse/triceps dips, lunges and sissy squats all being useful exercise which need little or no equipment or space.
Another option is to carry a couple of strips of exercise band with varying resistance and length. They will increase the amount of exercises you can do ten-fold, the only real limit is your imagination. Speak to an aerobics instructor or personal trainer, they often buy it in bulk rolls and can cut off strips so you can cut it to the lengths you prefer. I advise getting the strongest resistances you can manage as it will still be useful as you grow stronger and will be less likely to snap.
For most backpackers weight and space are prime concerns, but this kind of resistance band/tubing will take up very little space and weigh next to nothing. Nylon skipping/jump ropes with plastic handles can also be fitted in even the most weight conscious travellers luggage and provide another cardio option.
Those of us that do not mind a little running or walking can make things more interesting by taking their exercise equipment outside. When arriving at a new destination take a look around for suitable ‘props’ park benches, bus shelters and children’s play areas all make excellent improvised exercise equipment. By running or walking between these ‘stations’ you effectively have a ‘running’ circuit, include carrying your bands you will have a multitude of potential exercises.
Upright, bent-over and seated rowing, bench press, biceps curl, step-ups, triceps press, shoulder press, heaves/chin-ups all can be added to your existing free-standing exercises and many more. All it requires is a little imagination, some of the aforementioned improvised equipment and the resistance bands!
“Potential “Strictly Come Dancing” contestants “
Include this fitness regime with some fun but very active adventurepursuits like white-water rafting, mountain biking, bodyboarding or skiing and keeping trim will seem pretty easy.
Do not discount fun activities like dancing of course, make use of your happy feet and it is a good excuse to attend a party or fit in a little clubbing. Potential “Strictly Come Dancing” contestants can get plenty of practice, tone a few muscles and burn off a few calories, all with a sexy partner? Sounds like a plan to me!
A sprint around all the bars in your destination enjoying a tipple at each is possibly being considered by one or two, whilst I doubt it will improve anybody’s fitness, it certainly sounds like a fun way to try and maybe a chance of sponsorship for charity too. Heineken or Havana Club maybe worth an email?
The main thing though is to enjoy it, this way it will ensure you persevere with it. Extra fitness will enhance your trip, enable you to participate in more active excursions and enable you to enjoy that extra mojito or chimichanga guilt free!
What tips do you have to share about keeping fit whilst travelling, looking forward to reading some great tips?