Work force on vacation

For the next trip, use the workout clothes you packed.

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For the next trip, use the workout clothes you packed.

Open your travel guide and you’ll find recommendations on where to stay, what to eat and what to see. You’ll read about annual festivals, etiquette considerations, museums and noteworthy cooking classes, but exercise options rarely pay off, unless you’re somewhere icon, like surfing in Costa Rica or skiing in Tahoe.

I think that’s a shame – and not because I believe in strict exercise routines or avoid vacation relaxation. This has nothing to do with diet culture, calories, or Western beauty standards. This is a message about the power of workouts to treat jet lag, increase endorphins and appetite, and challenge your mind and body in a new place.

The concept was implanted for me at a young age. My parents jog, swim and bike on family vacations. As I got older, I began to travel more heavily for work, and if I didn’t exercise on the road I rarely had the chance because I was only at home for short periods of time. Over hundreds of trips, I’ve found that even if I only had 20 minutes to stretch, I felt better in my body after 12 hours of flights or 16 hours of working days as a freelancer.

But I’m not telling you to suck up your precious vacation time in a windowless hotel lounge. Now that it’s less crowded from 9 to 5, I don’t work out when I travel out of necessity; I do this because it can create some of my favorite memories from the trip.

Read more:
* Best exercise for every travel scenario
* No Hotel Gym, No Problem: 10 Equipment-Free Ways to Work Out While Traveling
* Easy ways to stay fit and prevent weight gain during summer holidays

Illustration A: Portugal, 2017. I was in Porto learning about winemaking and needed to do something non-drinking. To combat long drives to wineries and hours of tasting, I searched Google Maps for a Muay Thai gym. I fell in love with this sport when I was living in Thailand.

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Boom Academy was far from the tourist areas. They had a beginner’s class to fit my schedule, so I packed a suitcase with my workout clothes and walked from the hostel to the gym. Through Google Translate, I asked employees to purchase a one-day pass. This does not always work. Sometimes gyms are exclusive to members only. But I was lucky, and they threw me in class.

Have you ever felt a little offended? yes. I don’t speak Portuguese‚ and I’m not very good at Muay Thai, but I can still follow the coach and have a great time playing the idiot foreigner. It was a social experience – you bond with the people you sweat with, the language barrier or not.

I left sweaty, humbled, and relaxed. We don’t always notice how much stress we’re in when we travel, and exercising can take some of the burden off, like when your dentist tells you to de-stress when you didn’t realize you were cramping in the first place.

I can tell you dozens of similar stories. I’ve surfed in Peru, played soccer in Morocco and biked in Maine.

Exercise doesn’t have to be rigorous to be beneficial: Find a realistic way of moving that gives you a taste of local life. Trying tai chi, going for a walk in the woods or taking a dip in the water can be quite satisfying.

In the end, this is a case of slow travel. Instead of cluttering your day with sightseeing, take an hour to appreciate a place away from the highlights of Tripadvisor and enjoy the magic of nature.

And as a bonus, you’re preparing your body for one of the greatest joys of travel: eating.

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