Exercise and Backpacking

Running in Central Park, NYC

Aracely and I are both health conscience individuals who enjoy working out and eating healthy, but there are always exceptions.  We definitely do have our  fair share of splurges on pizza (for me) and ice cream (for Aracely).  Our initial thought was that backpacking for a year would get us into better shape.  We have discovered that while on the road having any sort of routine, especially an exercise routine, is nearly impossible.

Participating in multi-day treks is an excellent form of exercise, but they usually take place weeks apart, creating new break-in pains each time.  Making things even more challenging, eating cheap street food is usually not healthy.

Here are some tips on how to Stay Fit and Healthy during your travels:
1. Walk

Instead of taking a cab, walk to your destination.  Walking is good exercise, saves you money and allows you to see a lot more of place.  It’s also an excellent way to capture spontaneous photos.  Walking down a street on the way to a destination we often spot a funny sign, a local restaurant or a hidden park.

2. Jog

Most large cities will have a park that is used by runners, walkers and sometimes bikers.  These tend to be safer areas if you are looking for a place to run.  We don’t recommend running in city streets that are unfamiliar to you.  In Latin America cars will always have the right away and rarely stop for you.  Getting lost is also a great concern.  Aracely started running in Quito since we had settled down there for a month.

3. Exercise

If you know you will be in a larger city try to do research ahead of time and find a yoga studio or workout class you can attend.  Ask your hotel staff, hostel or guest host where they recommend you workout.  Don’t forget that a simple exercise including push-ups, sit-ups, squats and stretching can be done from almost everywhere.

4. Eating Healthy

Eating healthy while traveling is not very difficult.  Visit the local markets, which can be an excellent cultural experience in itself, and purchase local fruits and vegetables to cook in your hostel or apartment.

Exercise Tools

Travel Exercise Tools1. GMAP-pedometer.com

GMAP-pedometer is a website that allows you to trace your walking or running route anywhere Google Maps has mapped.  That’s a lot places.  The tool can show your distance, elevation and calories burned.

Workouts for Travelers2. HundredPushups.com

This workout program can build tremendous strength and muscle endurance for those needing it.  The workout tailors to your current abilities, enabling a customized workout.  Beyond it’s name, the website also offers a sit-up, pull-up and squat workout.  You can also download the One Hundred Pushups application from the iTunes store for your iPhone or iTouch.  The application comes with a built in timer.

Travel Exercise iTunes Apps3. iFitness Application

The iFitness application from iTunes has become the #1 selling fitness app for good reason.  The application includes a cardio log, varying workout programs specific by muscle or equipment, and routines tailored to your goals.  Each exercise includes pictures detailing the steps involved.

If you are an outdoor person that enjoys the occasional hike while traveling, naturally the exercise might come a little easier for you.  For those that do mostly city tours, there will be a greater breaking in period, but you will have lots of access to local gyms and yoga centers in the urban areas.  Staying healthy will strengthen your immune system, which is important when traveling to foreign places around the world.