Welcome back Woof readers! I am here again with my bi-monthly fitness and health column, excited as ever as I enter into my final semester at Northeastern. Recently I returned from a three-week volunteer program in Bogota, Colombia and one pressing question all my fellow fitness friends asked before I left was, “How will keep up your workout routine while abroad?”
As students, we are fortunate enough to have a fairly steady schedule and two gyms located right on campus. But when we go home for holiday breaks, study abroad or even have multiple snow days in a row, it can be difficult to keep a consistent workout regime and stay on track with your fitness goals.
When traveling, many issues can prevent us from maintaining our normal routines. For instance, if you typically work out in a gym you might find yourself without any access to equipment. If you run through your neighborhood, you may find yourself in an area not safe to do so. Or if you usually stick to a healthy diet by cooking your own meals, you may not even have access to a kitchen or fridge. Luckily, you can combat all these issues by developing a specific action plan to take with you on any trip, whether it’s for a day or a year. To start, here are my four top tips:
1. Explore. When you arrive someplace new, whether it’s outside the country or domestic, the first thing I like to do is walk around explore my new surroundings. You can easily log 4-5 miles while taking in the new sites and you may even discover a new favorite coffee shop or bookstore.
2. Find a new activity. Think outside of the typical gym. Perhaps there is a good place to go for a long hike, rent a bike to get around, horseback ride, or join the locals in sports game. The possibilities are endless. You can also go online and download a workout video to do in your room. I recommend checking here for a list to get started.
3. Practice portion control. While visiting a new country or city one of the best ways to experience the culture is to take part in trying the cuisine. Don’t limit yourself from tasting just because it may not be the healthiest option, simply watch portions and don’t over indulge. It can be easy to start following a healthy eating plan abroad just by being more conscious of overall calorie intake.
4. Find a buddy. If you enjoying running outside, make a friend and the two of you can find new paths to run together. Or, if you discover you both love to dance, do some research and find a local dance studio where you can sweat it out together. Having a buddy who shares your commitment to fitness can keep you both on track.
While I was in Colombia, I found ways to utilize all these tips and returned right back to my old fitness regime state-side with no problem. My time in Bogota was spent hiking the Andes Mountains (the view at the top never gets old), horseback riding, and since we did volunteer work, spending week days constructing, painting, and playing on playgrounds with kids.
While being forced to break out of your fitness routine can be stressful, changing it up ever now and then can be great for your health and may even help you find a whole new activity to love.