While exploring new cities, countries, and continents is an empowering—and fun(!)—way to step outside of your comfort zone, traveling also throws a wrench in your workout regimen. In addition to the obvious scheduling issues, your wanderlust comes with challenges like jet lag, altitude changes, sleepless red eyes, and other pitfalls that make training more difficult. Even so, fitness experts agree that staying active will help give you the energy that you need to sightsee, adjust to a new time zone, and thoroughly savor your trip. Here are some things to consider about how travel affects workouts. Plus, we share some effective solutions to help you power through—and return home with more than just a new passport stamp, but also renewed confidence.
You can take Aaptiv with you no matter where you go, just choose a workout, download it, and press play anywhere in the world!
If you’re battling jet lag, reduce your intensity level.
Hopping over to Europe, finally checking South Africa off your bucket list, or eating your way through Thailand? The flight is taxing enough, but once you land on unexplored soil, figuring out the time can be a task in itself. Fitness Expert Sergio Rojas explains that adjusting to a new sleep schedule might mean that you’re waking up at all hours of the night or morning, thanks to your internal clock that’s still rewiring.
The good news is that exercise will put you on the right track. However, chances are slim that you’ll have the energy reserve to get through a difficult, cardio-heavy sweat. That’s why it’s important to restructure your workout and listen to your body when it’s signaling that it needs rest. “Reduce the intensity level of your workout by 30 to 50 percent, so that you do not over-exhaust your body, which can impede sleep, create oxidative stress, and increase your risk of injury,” Rojas explains. In other words: A jog by the Thames River in London is just as impactful and enjoyable as a sprint.
Choose a workout you know after a red-eye flight.
Red-eye flights give you more hours in a new city. And, if you’re crossing over time zones, they can also speed up the adjustment period. However, the vast majority of people report difficulty nodding off on an airplane. This is no doubt thanks to the 90-degree, upright position that doesn’t do much to attract the Sandman. Even if you do manage to squeeze in some shuteye, your quality of sleep is much lower than if you were snuggled in the comfort your bed, says Rojas. Once you’ve touched down and had a night of rest, he suggests opting for a workout you know—and love. When your brain is still foggy from the flight, familiar exercises require less mental sharpness. So, take your favorite Aaptiv workouts for a spin in your new locale.
Prepare for changes in altitude—and adjust accordingly.
Whether you’re taking a selfie with a llama at Machu Picchu or venturing to rocky regions of the great American West, Rojas urges travelers to prepare before they leave. Practice higher-intensity bursts at home to mimic the oxygen deprivation that you will feel on a mountain. Then, three days before you leave, reduce your intensity level by 50 percent. This way you can return to full-speed once you land. “It takes more energy to run or exercise with less oxygen, so understand that workouts are energy expenditure. A four-mile run at 7.5 mph at home may be the equivalent energy expenditure of a two-mile run at 5.7 mph in higher altitudes,” he explains.
Another key component of altitude regulation? Water! You need to stay hydrated at higher altitudes—and it gets more challenging the higher you go. Start by drinking 50 percent more than you normally would. If you still don’t feel satisfied, Rojas suggests imbibing a natural, low-in-sugar energy drink to get you there.
Warm-up longer and plan ahead for temperature changes.
Part of the allure of vacation is escaping your current climate—no matter if you live somewhere where it’s currently freezing or currently scorching. But there are some pitfalls that come with temperature changes. Your body has already adjusted to the temperature of your hometown. Rojas says that various elements prevent a myriad of challenges. This makes it important to start off slow when you’re getting into your out-of-office fitness routine.
On a skiing trip, you might notice the frigid air putting more stress on your lungs. Rojas recommends a longer, dynamic warm-up to prepare you for the exertion. He also reminds you to give yourself a bit more TLC at the end of your activity-filled day. This will help you be less sore in the morning.
In a warmer climate, you might feel mighty powerful when you first step foot into a hotter place, as your muscles are also warm—but the enthusiasm will wane. You’ll be sweating more, so all of your vital nutrients will melt away. Rojas recommends hydrating before, during, and after any workout, and giving yourself more liberty with breaks. “Pay close attention to make sure [that] you do not get light-headed or dizzy, which could be a sign of heat exhaustion,” he adds.
Get creative when you’re stuck in a hotel room.
Cross-country business trips sound far more glamorous than they really are. Often you wind up seeing more of your hotel room than you do of the city. Rojas says that many travelers feel confined to the limitations of a small space. This can be especially true if your company didn’t splurge for a resort with an ample fitness center. Here’s where getting creative with fitness is required. “You can use the chair in your room for step-ups, dips, and even modified push-ups, among dozens of other exercises,” he explains. Or, if the weather is welcoming, wake up early before your first meeting of the day and hit the ground running—literally. We don’t need to remind you that Aaptiv is the perfect workout travel companion.