You have been planning your study abroad and the time is nearly here for your departure. As a Program Advisor, one of the questions I get asked frequently is, “how can I stay in shape abroad?” In some instances, you may not have access to a gym and lets be honest, working out while abroad requires you to stay committed which can be hard while attending classes, going on field studies, and traveling, already on your plate (no pun intended). Here are a few ways you can improvise and not feel sluggish during your study abroad.
Before you depart, try asking yourself these questions.
- Do you like to exercise in the morning or at night?
- Do you know if there is a gym nearby where you will be living?
- Are you going to bring your running shoes and work out clothing?
By answering those questions, you will have a better idea of how committed you will be to exercising. For example, I like to exercise in the morning, so when I travel I will workout or go for a run when I first wake up. This helps me jump start my day and get my workout out of the way. It is really important to set this up, so you stay dedicated and get into a routine that works for you.
One of the easiest ways to stay fit is to incorporate something you’re probably planing on doing already. Sightseeing gives you the chance to explore the area you are staying in and get familiar with locations. Whether it is visiting famous landmarks or going to a museum, you will be surprised how many miles/kilometers you walk in a day. Over the past few years, many cities allow you to rent bikes for the day and cycle around the city. I recently did this when I visited London and I was able to go around the entire city and see many famous landmarks in a few days.
Simplify your workout
You may not have the convenience of a gym, but that should not deter you from working out. You can still have a great workout by just using your body weight and some common items around your room.
A simple workout that you can do could involve pushups, squats, lunges, sit ups, and holding yourself parallel to the ground and planking. Additionally, furniture can be a great exercise “machine”. For example, with a chair you can do tricep dips. There is an infinite amount of possibilities and you will see that instead not finding time to workout, you will be worried about trying to fit all your exercises in the time you have to workout.
Join a club
These days, many clubs use social media to communicate between their members and coordinate events. From run clubs to sports clubs, you should be able to find something you’re interested in online before you depart. Not only will it help you get in your exercise, but you will get to meet some locals who can give you tips and advice about the area and also you get to see parts of the area you may not have visited. When I studied in Torino, a group of friends and I would meet with Italians to play socc, err, I mean football every Thursday. It was always a great time and something I am glad I was a part of.
Watch what you eat
To be honest, this may be the hardest piece of advice. You should try everything and experience all the delicious food on your study abroad program, but all in moderation. I know the temptation to eat anything you see is what you want to do, but try limiting the unhealthy things you eat or anticipate that you may have something unhealthy, but will balance out the rest of the day with healthier choices. This will help you feel better, stick to your exercise routine, and make sure when you return from traveling, that you don’t feel like you derailed all your hard work.
– Ryan Sullivan, USAC Program Advisor