So you’re traveling soon are you? Guess you’ve been given a free pass to gorge on what you want, while lounging by the pool, right?
Well, you could. If you want to kiss your fitness goals goodbye.
Yes, ladies and gents, vacation or travel is not synonymous with letting it all go by the wayside. Some may dub us fanatics, but there’s nothing wrong with staying fit during your travels, especially if you’re going to be gone in excess of a week.
A few days? You can do without working out. However, it’s ultimately your decision if you wish to toss several months of hard work in the trash, for a few moments of luxury.
Yeah, that’s what we thought. But relax, it doesn’t have to be difficult to maintain some baseline fitness while you’re on the move.
Consider this your essential tips for staying fit and healthy the next time you travel, whether that be for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or even just for work.
Your Need For Sleep Doesn’t Take A Rest
Sleep is a fundamental component of overall health and fitness, and its importance cannot be overstated, especially while traveling.
Despite the temptations to maximize your time in meetings, or exploring and socializing, adequate sleep should remain a priority. Lack of sleep can lead to a cascade of negative effects that can severely compromise your fitness goals and overall well-being.
First and foremost, inadequate sleep can and will impair your physical performance. Your body repairs and rejuvenates itself during sleep. Muscle tissues are repaired, and energy stores are replenished.
Sleep deprivation can lead to reduced stamina, decreased strength, and slower reaction times. These performance drops can make any form of exercise or physical activity more difficult, reducing the efficacy of your workouts and possibly increasing the risk of injury.
Lack of sleep will also negatively affect your metabolic function. Sleep deprivation can lead to imbalances in hormones that regulate hunger — specifically, leptin and ghrelin. When you're sleep-deprived, you're more likely to feel hungrier and less satiated after eating.
This can lead to increased caloric intake or cravings, making it easier to gain weight and harder to lose it. Then there’s the fact that your body's ability to regulate blood sugar is compromised, affecting your energy levels and potentially leading to more weight gain and other health issues in the long run.
Inadequate sleep can lead to elevated stress levels, decreased focus, and impaired cognitive function. Your ability to make rational choices, including those related to diet and exercise, can be compromised when you're running on insufficient sleep. Traveling already comes with its own sets of stressors; adding sleep deprivation into the mix exacerbates these challenges.
Lastly, your immune system relies on adequate sleep for optimal functioning. Travel exposes you to new environments and potential pathogens. A well-rested body is better equipped to fight off illnesses, ensuring that your travel plans remain uninterrupted.
Sleep is non-negotiable if you're serious about maintaining your fitness and overall health during your travels. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night. Plan your activities accordingly, and set boundaries when social obligations threaten to impede your sleep schedule. Your body and mind will thank you, making your travel experience more enjoyable and keeping you on track with your fitness goals.
If your trip required long flights and jet lag has reared its ugly head, use Dreamzzz; our signature sleep aid with melatonin and non-habit-forming ingredients to get your circadian rhythm back on track in a jiffy. Don’t play around with your sleep.
Walk Whenever Possible
Maintaining fitness while traveling presents its own set of challenges, but it's entirely achievable with the right strategies. One of the most effective ways to stay active while on the move is to walk whenever possible.
Walking serves multiple purposes; it not only allows you to explore your new environment but also provides a simple yet effective cardiovascular workout.
Make walking a mandatory part of your daily routine when you're traveling. Instead of taking a taxi or the bus for short distances, opt for a brisk walk. If you're in a city, explore the local neighborhoods on foot.
Walking increases your heart rate, engages your leg muscles, and can burn significant calories when done at a brisk pace. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. Walking can help you meet this target even while you're away from your usual gym or workout environment.
Plus, walking can often be easily integrated into your travel itinerary. Use a pedometer or a fitness tracker to set daily step goals. Aim for a decent 10,000 steps a day, which is roughly equivalent to five miles.
When you're touring a new city or natural landmark, those steps can quickly add up without you even noticing. This passive form of exercise can also help you offset the extra calories you may consume while indulging in local cuisine.
Another important benefit of walking is its impact on mental health. The simple act of walking can help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety, which are common experiences when you’re in a foreign land. The psychological benefits of walking are amplified if you can walk in green spaces or along scenic routes, as nature has its own set of benefits for mental well-being.
Still, Eat Breakfast
So you’re thinking about not having breakfast, are you? Prioritizing breakfast is actually crucial for maintaining fitness, especially when you're traveling and your schedule is unpredictable. Skipping breakfast may seem like a time-saving strategy when you're eager to start your day early or adhere to a tight itinerary, but this choice can have negative repercussions on your overall fitness and health.
Eating breakfast kickstarts your metabolism for the day. When you skip the first meal, you're essentially prolonging your body's fasting state, which can lead to a decrease in your metabolic rate.
This means you'll burn fewer calories throughout the day, which is counterproductive if your goal is to maintain or improve your fitness level. Additionally, skipping breakfast can lead to increased hunger later in the day, making you more likely to overeat or choose unhealthy options when you do finally eat.
From a performance standpoint, breakfast fuels your body for the physical activities you'll undertake during the day. Whether it's a morning workout, a day of sightseeing, or even just navigating through airports, your body requires energy to function optimally.
Quality carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats are key macronutrients that should be included in your breakfast to provide sustained energy and keep you satiated until your next meal. Examples include oatmeal with fruit and nuts, scrambled eggs with vegetables, or Greek yogurt with a handful of berries.
Consistent meal timing aids in regulating your blood sugar levels too. Erratic eating patterns can result in spikes and dips in blood sugar, which can affect your mood, energy, and even your decision-making abilities. When you're traveling, you need to be at your best physically and mentally, and regular meal timing that includes a healthy breakfast contributes to that state of well-being.
Breakfast is an excellent opportunity to nourish your body with essential nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. When you're traveling, your dietary choices may not always be ideal. Breakfast can serve as a controlled setting where you can ensure that you're at least starting your day with a nutrient-dense meal (in most cases before you set out for the day).
If you’re absolutely unable to get breakfast because of travel during that time, we still recommend you pack a whole-food nutrition bar like Whole In One.
You’ll supply your body with critical macros and micronutrients, keep blood sugar levels controlled and hunger at bay.
Always Keep Water Handy
Planning a Caribbean getaway? Or maybe going down South? Good luck doing so without carrying water around all day. I mean, what more can we say about water that hasn’t already been said?
Staying hydrated is the bedrock of optimal fitness and overall health, even while you're traveling. When you're on the go, it's easy to neglect hydration due to distractions, schedule changes, or limited access to clean water. Always carrying a water bottle with you serves as a constant reminder to hydrate, and it ensures that you have immediate access to water when needed.
Dehydration can significantly impair both physical and cognitive performance. Even a seemingly small 2% reduction in body water weight can lead to reduced endurance, increased fatigue, and a higher perception of effort during physical activities.
These factors can severely compromise the quality of your workouts and your ability to stay active while traveling. Dehydration increases the risk of heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke, particularly if you're traveling to hot and humid climates.
The absence of thirst doesn't necessarily mean you’re adequately hydrated either. Thirst is not always a reliable gauge for your body's water needs, as the sensation can be blunted by various factors such as age, acclimatization to a new climate, or even distractions from your travel activities. Therefore, relying solely on thirst to guide your hydration could lead you into a deficit.
To make hydration a seamless part of your travel fitness routine, aim to drink at least 3 liters of water per day as recommended by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
These values can vary based on your level of physical activity, the climate you're in, and your individual needs. Opt for a reusable water bottle with measurement markings to keep track of your intake. Set reminders on your phone or fitness tracker to drink water at regular intervals. Also, consider incorporating hydration into your meal routines by drinking water before, during, and after meals.
But hydration isn't just about water; it's also about balancing electrolytes lost through sweat during physical activity. If you're engaged in prolonged or intense physical activities, consider adding an electrolyte solution or tablet to your water. This will help replenish lost sodium, potassium, and other essential electrolytes, aiding in quicker recovery and better performance.
Taking Fortify; our whole food (not extracts) multivitamin and mineral supplement will set the tone for the day when taken with breakfast, and allow water to do what it does best.
Limit The Sweets And Alcohol
Think you can get away with indulgences like nobody’s watching? Wrong! Your body knows what you did last summer. Monitoring your intake of sweets and alcohol is crucial. Both sweets and alcoholic beverages are often high in empty calories, which provide little to no nutritional value.
Consuming these can easily lead to weight gain, especially when you're less active than your usual self. A single gram of alcohol contains seven calories, and these calories can accumulate rapidly over multiple drinks.
Sugary foods, on the other hand, are rich in simple carbohydrates, which can cause spikes in your blood sugar levels and result in fat storage if not utilized for energy.
Limiting alcohol is not only beneficial for calorie control but also for your overall physical performance. Alcohol can dehydrate your body, impede muscle recovery, and negatively affect your sleep quality.
All these factors can considerably reduce your exercise performance and make it more challenging to maintain your fitness levels. When you're traveling, your routine is already disrupted, and consuming alcohol can further derail your fitness goals.
Similarly, excessive sugar intake can also have broader health implications. It can lead to increased fat accumulation, elevated blood sugar levels, and even increased risk of heart disease over the long term.
Consuming too many sweets can also trigger cravings for more unhealthy foods, making it harder for you to stick to a balanced diet. This can be particularly challenging when you're in a new place and surrounded by unfamiliar food options.
Travel often includes social gatherings and events where alcohol and sweets are readily available. Planning ahead can be an effective strategy to control consumption (note; we never said you have to be the wet blanket at any gathering). Choose to partake selectively, opting for lighter alcoholic drinks like wine over sugary cocktails, and prefer small portions of sweets when you indulge.
Keep track of what you consume. You can use smartphone apps designed to log your food and alcohol intake, ensuring that you're aware of the number of calories you're consuming. You’re human after all, not a machine.
Packing proactively for your travels can significantly affect your ability to maintain a fitness routine while away from home. Without the right equipment or apparel, your fitness routine could easily fall by the wayside. Or was it a planned and convenient excuse? Hmm…
Consider including compact and versatile exercise gear that can help you perform effective workouts without requiring a gym or specialized facilities.
One such piece of equipment is a set of resistance bands. These bands are incredibly lightweight, easy to pack, and versatile for a range of exercises targeting different muscle groups. With resistance bands, you can perform exercises like squats, bicep curls, shoulder presses, and lateral raises.
The advantage here is that the bands provide an external resistance that forces your muscles to contract, leading to muscle growth and strength gains. Just like free weights in the gym, resistance bands challenge your muscles through a variety of movements but have the added benefit of being nearly weightless and extremely portable.
When you pack, include different types of resistance bands to diversify your workouts. Loop bands can be excellent for lower-body exercises, while tube bands with handles can be used for a variety of upper-body movements.
Regardless of the specific type, they take up minimal space and can easily fit into your luggage without adding significant weight. These attributes make them ideal for travelers who may be limited by luggage restrictions or who simply prefer to travel light.
Besides resistance bands, think about other proactive packing choices. High-quality workout clothes, maybe a durable pair of training shoes, and even a lightweight, quick-drying towel can contribute to a more effective and comfortable workout experience.
Remember, having the right equipment at your disposal removes a layer of excuses and simplifies the logistics of staying fit while traveling. It creates a more conducive environment for you to maintain your fitness levels, thereby making it easier to stick to your fitness regimen irrespective of location.
There you have it, the quite effective, yet not so difficult cheatsheet to maintain your fitness and health. You’ll be thankful you did when you don’t need to set yourself back several weeks in the gym after heading back home.