Leaving on a jet plane
One of my absolute favourite things to do is to travel. To see other countries and cultures; taste new foods; explore; hike; climb; shop; and play. I am super excited to say that in 8 days my wife and I will be boarding a plane to fly to Italy for 2 weeks! How fortunate are we!?
My first taste of Europe happened last year when we visited Greece and I was completely blown away by its beauty and allure. I can only imagine what Italy has in store for us 🙂
As exciting and amazing as travel can be, it is not without it’s challenges. Travelling is pretty physically taxing. Often I hear people sharing stories of illness and aches, pains and sometimes injuries upon returning from vacation. This is quite understandable, and I too have had my fare share of illness due to travel. Poor air quality, irregular sleeping patterns, stress of layovers, sore back from sitting / standing for long periods of time, etc.
I am speaking generally here, however, even if yours is a beach destination, you would likely be inclined to swim, snorkel, maybe play some beach games, take a walking tour or explore an adventure that requires some physical movement. Maybe not…but there are also the physical challenges of travel itself: running to catch your plane, dragging luggage around, attempting to heave said luggage above one’s head to stow away in the overhead bins. Not always easy tasks for sure and can certainly put a strain on what should have been otherwise a ‘restful’ getaway.
I want to share some exercises you can do ahead of time to physically prepare for travel and the benefits that improved fitness can offer while you’re off exploring the world.
The stronger you are, the more you can do, for a longer period of time.
Strength, endurance, power and stamina. How can we achieve these things in a safe and time efficient manner? I am going to share 4 basic exercises with you that, if you’re not already, you should be performing on a weekly basis.
- Leg Press: Training on a leg press machine pretty much covers all of your basis for lower body conditioning. It addresses front and back thighs, glutes and hips, even your calves get a good workout with a properly performed leg press. WHY this exercise? This exercise will improve your stamina on your feet when you are exploring new (or really old) cities 🙂 It will also enable you to ‘turn on the jets’ when you need to sprint to catch that plane; or to ‘use your legs’ when lifting your heavy bags up off the floor.
- Shoulder Press: This exercise, as the name implies, addresses the shoulder muscles, upper chest and the backs of your arms (triceps). WHY this exercise? Do this exercise to press your luggage into the overhead compartments of planes, trains and automobiles.
- Compound Row: This exercise addresses the biceps, upper/mid back and rear shoulder muscles. WHY this exercise? The Row will build strength and stamina for things like: lifting your bags from the floor up onto your hotel bed; paddling activities like kayaking, canoeing or swimming. This exercise will also give you the strength and endurance to carry a heavy pack on your back while you are taking in the sights, touring around town, or on the hiking / walking trail.
- Lower back extension:
This exercise addresses the spinal muscles in the back. WHY this exercise? Sitting on a plane, sitting in a bus, sitting at the terminal waiting for the plane and bus = hard on your back. The stronger these muscles are, the more you can endure sitting for prolonged periods. Of course stronger back muscles will also make it easier for you to lift those heavy bags and will also allow you to stand for long periods of time without it aching all night.
Perform all of these exercises to a deep level of fatigue without any pain twice per week leaving 2-4 days between each workout to ensure proper recovery (this is when you actually get stronger, so be sure to recover well!). I suggest starting 6 weeks out from your travels at a minimum. That said, even if you only performed 2 workouts before you travel, I believe that will still have a positive impact on your conditioning and will certainly be better than going away completely untrained.
These exercises can be performed without machines, but it is never as safe or time efficient as using a proper machine.
Fitness enhances your travel experience.
I believe that travel is an amazing privilege that we should cherish and take advantage of. Proper physical preparation can dramatically enhance your travel experience. I do believe that this starts with your mindset. Knowing that you can improve your conditioning with a little effort will give you the courage to take advantage of opportunities in your travels.
Maybe you’d like to try snorkelling for the first time? Or perhaps you’d like to take a day trek through the countryside or a city walk (as I’ll be doing in Venice, Florence and Rome!) Your experience will often be largely shaped by your confidence in being open to new activities and adventures and your physical fitness plays a huge role in your confidence. Physical Fitness = Confidence.
I have quite a few clients who love to take southern vacations to golf. The
remarkable thing is that even though they may not have swung a club in 2-6 months, they have a great time! They report walking the course with ease; they feel strong on the tee; and no significant aches or pains at the end of the trip!
It’s no secret that being physically fit improves your immunity to illness while travelling too, helping to stave off colds and other bugs. It also increases our resilience to physical injuries. Nothing would be worse than rolling your ankle or straining your back half way up the mountain. Additionally we want to take full advantage of all of the things that we may enjoy while away on our travels. Sometimes the unplanned activities turn out to be the greatest adventures, being physically prepared allows you to take advantage of those moments.
Safe strength training is the key to all of this; and the best thing of all? It only takes 20-60 minutes per week.
If you have any questions or comments about the article let me know –> [email protected]
Thanks for reading, buon viaggio!
PS: I will be keeping you all posted whilst on my trip to Italy on our Facebook page. I will likely share some of my experiences, photos and perhaps a few videos. Keep an eye on our FB page for posts! I will be travelling from April 7th-23rd (2017).