How To Stay Healthy Even When Travelling: Exercise

Travelling is a time of indulgence, doing exciting and new things all day long and pampering oneself to the max. We gorge on the many different exotic delicacies that we encounter, tasting as much of the local flavours as we possibly can, paying little attention to the quantity and quality of food consumed.

This often translates to putting on a few extra pounds by the time we return home, which poses an additional emotional burden on top of the usual post-holiday-blues. Such a scenario is something that I can relate to all too well, so I have devised a list of strategies to ensure that our bodies can still stay in shape at the end of a good holiday while not compromising our tastebuds in exchange.

The secret to maintaining one’s figure composes of 2 key elements: exercise and diet. Let us first focus on the former.


Exercising is a great way to keep our bodies fit and healthy. It helps build strong bones, increases muscle strength, and lowers the risk of many lifestyle diseases. Of course, it also plays the role of burning some extra calories that we do not need. But, it’s important to remember that exercise alone is unlikely to offset a bad diet.

So, how do we incorporate exercise in our travel routine? Below are some tips that might be helpful for those needing some fresh new ideas!

  1. Walk

Walking is the best form of exercise when travelling in my humble opinion, because all you need is a good comfortable pair of shoes and you’re ready to go! Furthermore, this activity should be easily incorporated in your itinerary in the form of sightseeing! What better way to explore a new city, a new country, by strolling along their streets and soaking up the local vibes? If you can avoid taking any forms of public or private transport, I’d highly recommend relying on your own two feet instead. Not only will you save on transport fare, you’d also be getting a good cardio session for free!

For instance, during my solo trip in Kyoto, I tried to walk everywhere I could to save on transport fare (which is pretty pricey per trip). From Kyoto station, I’d do 30 minutes or more of walking to get into the Kawaramachi shopping area, and then walk some more as I window shop! Of course for places that are far out and lack proper walking paths, don’t waste your time and take the trains instead.

  1. Hike

If the destination allows you, choose someplace suitable for a hike. The main difference between a hike and a walk is that hiking typically involves incline walking, perhaps going up a mountain or hill. Hiking is an extremely rewarding activity to partake in – that sense of pride and achievement felt as you’re standing at the summit is incredible! Not to mention, you’d be surrounded by nature’s beauty throughout and your senses will be in for a treat. The best time to go for a hike would be in the cooler seasons, such as spring and autumns. You’d be blessed with either lush green foliage or warm golden fiery colours. In some countries, hiking in winter is also possible if temperatures are not too cold.

For instance, when I was in Kyoto, I hiked a couple of times. The first was Mount Kurama. Technically you could take a cable car up, but why pay to do that when you can hike and enjoy the scenery in closer proximity? The second time was at Fushimi Inari, where I went through the whole tori gate trail from start to finish. The last one was at Arashiyama’s Iwatayama Monkey Park – you HAVE to climb all the way to the top since that is where all the monkeys are clustered at anyways.

  1. Workout

If you feel like you’ve over-indulged slightly and want some extra exercise apart from the above 2, I’d suggest doing some quick workouts back in the hotel room! You can either do it in the morning after waking up (if you’re a morning person), or at night after dinner. There are so many different home workouts of varying difficulty levels available for free on Youtube, targeting different body parts and catering to people of all backgrounds. Rather than aiming for a long 30 minute intense HIIT (you can do this if motivated enough), I think it’s more feasible after a long day of sightseeing to do a quick 10 minute routine instead. On one day, you could choose to target your abs. On another day, you could choose to focus on other body parts, be it the arms or back or legs. It’s all up to you!

Some of my go to favourites are Youtubers like Emi Wong, Blogilates, and Chloe Ting just to name a few. If you have no idea whose workouts to follow, you can check their videos out and give them a try. To make things more interesting and increase your motivation, do these workouts with your travel companion if you’re not alone!

During my solo trip, I mostly did abs exercises in BED (yes this is a thing – check out Emi Wong’s bed workout) since I usually walked a lot in the day while carrying my heavy backpack so I wanted to give my arms and legs a rest. It was perfect for keeping me warm in the cold winter nights as well 🙂

  1. Gym

This is an additional option that I’ve included since not many people may have access to a gym. If your hotel has a gym ready for use, go ahead and get a smashing good workout in! Use the treadmills and get your heart rate pumping, lift some weights and do resistance training. If your hotel does not have a gym, don’t fret. I wouldn’t recommend paying for an external gym because after all… YOU ARE ON HOLIDAY! This is for those gym-fanatics out there – it’s ok to miss going to the gym for a week or two, your gains are not going to vanish. Just like how your muscles and strength didn’t develop overnight, they’re not going to disappear so quickly either. Check out this video by Natasha Oceane (another one of my favourite Youtubers) for more information about the science behind skipping workouts:

I hope that you have found this post helpful in managing that travel tummy (as I like to call it). If you have any more tips to share, feel free to comment below! My tips regarding a traveller’s diet will be in the next post, so do check it out! 🙂

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