Wellness Wednesday Tip #50: Benefits of Traveling & Keeping Your Routine

     Welcome back and Happy Wellfie Wednesday! This week is brought to you by Diana and inspired by her recent travels.

     I have just returned from a trip to Italy and wanted to discuss the effects of traveling and your physical health. Many people are under the impression that when you travel you won’t be able to keep up with your fitness routine or that you will ignore your nutritional goals, but that’s completely untrue. During my trip, I found that I was far more aware of what I was eating, more active, and overall felt more invigorated and energized.

Physical activity. I’m not sure about all of you, but when I am home I walk a decent amount. I try to walk places if I can versus driving, which is pretty easy for me given that I live in New York City. While I was traveling I found that I was walking an average of 15 km (9 miles) a day! This was the best way for me to get around and see everything as well as preventing me from mistakenly getting on a bus or metro in the wrong direction and getting more lost. Traveling makes you more active of a person because you aren’t sitting at your desk working or studying! You are out and about, trying to explore as much as possible. And as a #WellfieCrew member, I obviously also brought theraband with me to keep myself active. They take up very little space and can be manipulated in so many ways for exercise. Backpacking also acts as an indirect method of exercise as you are carrying around all of your things while traveling between cities! In American standards, I am an early riser. In European standards, I am considered mad! I told a few of my hosts that I wake up at 6am to run almost daily and they were all completely shocked! This turned out to be a great time to go out as cities were silent and you could run on a path to see monuments and landmarks to avoid the masses and crowds during the daytime (for example, the Trevi fountain in Rome).

Nutrition. What’s the first thing you think about when you hear “Italy?” Pizza. Pasta. Cheese. Wine. Not things you typically associate with a healthy diet. Italy is notorious for eating an abundance of grains, dairy, and meats. You would think that I would have gained weight and felt unhealthy after having pizza daily, but it was the opposite! I found that everything tastes lighter and fresher, which I at first thought was just the fact that I was in a new country but in actuality, the quality of the food is better in the European Union. The EU has higher regulations and restrictions on their treatment and production of food products and thus the quality of the food on your plate is greater (in comparison to the United States). This is certainly felt in eating as you feel lighter and less weighed down by a nearly identical meals of pizza and antipasta (appetizer) in the EU versus the USA. (13 Ways the EU Beats the U.S. on Food Safety) On top of the quality of ingredients, I found that it was easier to keep track of what I was eating while traveling because it was harder for me to succumb and purchase my guilty pleasure foods (ie. Haribo fizzy cola gummies…) because of my weak grasp of the Italian language.

Expand Your Perspective. “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” (Bill Bryson) Travel gives you a chance to interact with new people and new environments, which ultimately gives you a greater perspective of things. You are exposed to other people and hear about the way that others live in their hometowns or you see how people live if you happen to go to smaller cities and villages. It gives you a perspective you would have otherwise never known, especially as someone from a dominant country (ie. the United States of America).

Mental Wellness and Stress Reduction*. We lead busy lives, constantly occupied, and always trying to increase our multitasking abilities. Travel is a great way to escape the stresses and commitments of everyday life, offering novelty and change in the form of new people, sights and experiences. Traveling has many advantages, with stress relief topping the list. With a short list of activities each day, freed up from the complexities of ongoing projects and relationships, the mind can reset, as does the body, with stress relief the main outcome. Humans thrive on novelty, and travel offers the complete package with new faces, sounds and sights. (Dr. Margaret J. King, https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2017/02/24/how-travel-can-benefit-our-mental-health/)

     Overall, traveling and vacation tends to be misinterpreted as purely for relaxation and doing nothing but it’s quite the contrary! You can relax and stay active, recharge and explore, and open your mind to new things, all from the simple act of traveling! “Investment in travel is an investment in yourself.” (Matthew Karsten)

*Longer article to come. I met many people in my travels that I have reached out to in order to collaborate to write about the effects of travel on the mind, body, and soul. Check back in a few weeks at klattalyst.com/thetraveleffect

     Thanks again for all of the #WellfieWednesday support, be sure to post your pictures this week and tag the WW crew members (@PBernerSPT@Eric_in_AmERICa@AaronPerezPT@fitnerdaimee@DianaKlatt) and keep the wave of healthy change going!

- WW Crew