3 Ways to Stay Healthy as You Travel

Travel can mean death to your normal health routine. When at home, we each craft daily or weekly regimens concerning the foods we eat or the muscle groups we exercise. These build long term habits that help keep us fit. When we buy that round trip ticket to paradise those practices can sometimes go out the window as we indulge in food and relaxation. Add this to age and inactivity, and you have a recipe for reduced mobility and muscle loss. This, however, doesn't have to happen.

Travel doesn't have to be harmful to the healthy lifestyle we’ve worked so hard to foster, even in poor air quality. If you make the effort to choose healthy activities paired with engaging locations, travelling can be a tool to help further your fitness pursuits. Satisfying your need to see a different culture or part of the world can be a fulfilling and energizing way to break up the monotony and engage in exciting health-related activities.

Staying Strong By Swimming

man swimming underwater in blue calm water topless with flippers

Swimming is one of the healthiest activities you can take part in. Merely looking at a professional swimmer's physique may give you an idea why. Swimming creates a defined torso, broad shoulders and a strong back. What helps develop this look is the fact that proper swimming works almost every muscle group in your body, from top to bottom.

Adding to the constant motion of every muscle is the fact that you have to move them through the water. The low impact resistance adds an element of strength training, while also making swimming ideal for those recovering for injury or suffering from joint pain.

To support this, a 2016 study found that swimming improved function and reduced pain in patients with osteoarthritis [1]. The folks studied were found to have significant reductions in joint pain, stiffness, and physical limitation after swimming regularly. They also experienced an increased quality of life in term joint flexion and general speed. If you're ready to take advantage of the benefits of swimming, it may be time to take a look at the best travel destinations for it.

One of the most stunning swimming experiences in the world is along the coast of Italy. In areas such as around the Tremiti Islands, swimmers have enjoyed clear turquoise waters, beautiful natural formations and lovely weather. Tour companies have taken advantage of the setting to offer travel packages that include day-long swims between islands.

As you swim through turquoise waters, you'll be helping to maintain a healthy weight, strengthen your heart and improve your sleep [2]. As pointed out in a 2016 study which compared swimmers to other athletes, swimming may even enhance your lung capacity [3].

Heading to the beaches of Italy, or anywhere, present many more health benefits that you should take advantage of. Do so while also enjoying good food, striking locations and lively cultures.

The Where and Why of Yoga

yoga pose above clouds in early morning yellow sun light and dew

Yoga has long established itself in Vancouver as an excellent meditation method that helps it's practitioners relax and reduce anxiety. In the last few years, however, scientific studies have added to our understanding of what actually happens to the body during and after a session.

One study focused on a group of women and discovered that after a three-month Hatha yoga program, they all had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol [4]. Heart disease, concentration impairment and weight gain have all been linked to cortisol, so reducing your levels should be an important fitness goal.

Yoga has been shown to reduce signs of inflammation as well. In a study of 218 people, consistent yoga practice was found to lower certain inflammatory markers. Chronic inflammation (as opposed to a normal immune response to injury) is thought to be a contributing factor in diseases such as diabetes and cancer [5].

Is it possible to enhance your travels with a few stress and inflammation reducing yoga poses? The answer is definitely yes. One destination to keep in mind is Costa Rica. The Central American country is known for hosting some of the world's most popular yoga retreats. The Osa Peninsula, in particular, allows visitors to practice their down dog poses while also enjoying lush scenery, clean beaches and the natural beauty of Costa Rica’s west coast.

The Blue Osa Yoga Retreat & Spa specializes in all of the above. They're located right on the beach and in addition to providing instructor lead yoga classes, they also offer all the amenities that make a vacation worthwhile. That includes adventure excursions and spa therapy. The break in routine will be for the better.

Everyday Running

If you're a runner and want to make sure you don't fall behind during your next jump across the globe you are in luck. Running can be done anywhere and with minimal gear. A destination that won't disappoint if you're looking for scenic views and warm weather in Hawaii. The collection of islands regularly host marathons, half marathons and other running events. If you plan to make it there be sure to look through their list of 10k races held between 2019 and 2020.

man with short hair running on trail in the daytime next to mountains

If you haven't made running part of your exercise regimen, then consider its many positive health effects. For one, running helps regulate your blood pressure. As an aerobic exercise, running was found in a meta-analysis to help treat individuals suffering from hypertension [6].

If you're looking to take a vacation because your life feels a little out of control, keep in mind that running activates areas in the brain responsible for higher level functions like attention control, memory, or cognitive flexibility [7]. This means that running may help you get a better handle on your life by allowing you to keep focus without losing your cool.

If you want to keep your running trip local, Victoria has a number of organized runs you can join. The Times Colonist 10k Run, for example, will take participates around downtown Victoria and Dallas Road. Their start line is on Government between the BC Museum and the Provincial Legislature and will feature scenic routes as well as on-course entertainment. A post-race recovery area will also be available for all participants.

In addition to Victoria, there are running trails available throughout both Highlands and Langford. If you'd like to know what options make sense for you, reach out to us and we'll connect you to a local event or set you up with a running program that makes sense for you.

Be Fit Wherever You Are

There are lots of ways to incorporate wellness, exercise and fitness training into your vacation. You may, however, find yourself in a situation where you feel that exercise is out of the question. Taking a sprint on your plane ride to Hawaii would be a bad idea, but there are some quick exercises you can do in almost any space.

If you're staying local for your next vacation, make sure to read "Staying Healthy During your Vancouver Staycation"

1 Reid KJ, Baron KG, Lu B, Naylor E, Wolfe L, Zee PC.  Aerobic exercise improves self-reported sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia Sleep Medicine. October 2010, Pages 934-940. Volume 11 (Issue 9)

2 Lazovic-Popovicag B, Zlatkovic-Svendab M, Durmiccg T, Djelicdg M, Djordjevic-Saranovice S, Zugicfg V. Superior lung capacity in swimmers: Some questions, more answers! Revista Portuguesa de Pneumologia (English Edition) May–June 2016, Pages 151-156. Volume 22 (Issue 3)

3 Michalsen A1, Grossman P, Acil A, Langhorst J, Lüdtke R, Esch T, Stefano GB, Dobos GJ. Rapid stress reduction and anxiolysis among distressed women as a consequence of a three-month intensive yoga program Medical Science Monitor. 2005 Dec 11. [accessed 2019 July 9].

4 Khansari N1, Shakiba Y, Mahmoudi M. Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress as a major cause of age-related diseases and cancer Recent Patents on Inflammation & Allergy Drug Discovery. 2009 Jan 3. [accessed 2019 July 9].

5 Wen H, Wang L. Reducing effect of aerobic exercise on blood pressure of essential hypertensive patients Medicine (Baltimore). 2017 Mar. [accessed 2019 July 9].

6 Li L, Men WW, Chang YK, Fan MX, Ji L, Wei GX. Acute Aerobic Exercise Increases Cortical Activity during Working Memory: A Functional MRI Study in Female College Students PLOS One. 2014 Jun 9. [accessed 2019 July 9].

7 Alkatan M, Baker JR, Machin DR, Park W, Akkari AS, Pasha EP, Tanaka H. Improved Function and Reduced Pain after Swimming and Cycling Training in Patients with Osteoarthritis  The Journal of Rheumatology. 2016 March. [accessed 2019 July 9].

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