March 23, 2010

Fit to Travel

Avid readers of this blog will notice that the weekly post is a day late (and at least in my case, a dollar short!) due to my recent "big" move from Los Angeles to Washington D.C.  Whether temporary or permanent, moving to a new place can bring with it a host of changes to an established health and fitness routine - for better and for worse.

Much to my chagrin, for example, when I arrived at my new apartment I found that I was without an oven (!).  Rather than accept my "minimalist" kitchen offerings and resign myself to dining out every night, I decided to stock my fridge with healthy snacks and quick meals (think hummus and whole-wheat crackers, apples and natural peanut butter, hard boiled eggs, fat-free greek yogurt and local honey, and of course my trusty oatmeal and blueberries) from the get-go to make sure I wasn't too tempted by take-out.

Even better, a dear friend of mine pointed me to the nearest Farmer's Market to buy fresh produce and organic foods (click here to find one near you!), and I went online to map out the several different grocery stores within walking distance for a quick workout - try visiting more than one store on foot to get a sense of your new surroundings, pick up the best deals, and get in a great workout (walking + carrying bags!).

Perhaps the bigger issue for travelers, particularly those coming from a warm climate and/or those found without a gym membership in their new hometowns, is how to squeeze in regular exercise when you're wrenched from your normal routine and familiar facilities.  Whether you choose to join a gym or not, there are always options!

As a three-month visitor to D.C., I immediately picked up a city map and a bus pass so I could plan walking/running routes near and far (taking a bus to a park just to run around it might seem odd, but after dodging the same crowded city streets day in and day out it might just be worth it).  I packed with me some DVDs from home (slim, easy to pack, and great in the event of bad weather) and resistance bands, and picked up some cheap soft weights at the local sports store to get me through some vigorous home workouts.

Even if you aren't making a move, remember to "pack fit" when you are going on a trip.  Wear gym shoes on the plane so you can pace up and down the terminals as you wait for your flight.  Wear a backpack instead of carrying a bag to make longer walks (such as sight-seeing or commuting) more comfortable and amenable to speedy walking and biking.  Tie on some fitness shoes for trips on which you might be doing a lot of walking to power up your workout.

Finally, try not to stress - a missed workout for a relaxing vacation or action-packed weekend with friends won't ruin your overall health.  Have your splurges and then come back refreshed and ready to continue your healthy lifestyle - or establish your "new" fitness routine!  Embrace healthy changes in new places and your body will thank you.

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