Working Out and Eating Healthy on the Road – No easy task

by Jason -- December 11, 2009

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My friends and family will agree that I am big on health and fitness. While working full time and pursuing my MBA at night, I still made it to the gym 6 to 7 times a week. I took vitamins daily and brought sandwiches to work. I prefer healthy home cooking, where I know what ingredients went into the dish, to restaurants any day of the week. One of my major travel concerns was eating healthy and exercising. In this post I provide an update on eating healthy and our exercise habits after 6 weeks of being on the road and offer a few tips & tricks as well.

Our finding: it is certainly possible to stay healthy; however it’s definitely not easy. Personally, I have not done “traditional” exercise nearly as often as I thought I would (going on a run or lifting weights, etc). During the last 6 weeks, I’ve gone on only a handful of runs and swims. Days which are pegged as “relaxing” days, in which we watch TV, catch up on things on our computers are typically the days I’ve tried to get in a run or a swim. Other than that, I’ve pretty much relied on the fact that when we leave the hostel, all we typically do is walk.

I have a pedometer, which I typically use to track how far I’ve run, but I have also started using it to track how many steps per day we walk. A healthy recommendation is to get in 10,000 steps a day. 10,000 steps is a very light walking day for us. We average closer to 20,000 and have logged over 30,000 steps on occasion. Judging from the way our pants still fit us, this amount of walking has certainly been enough to keep us in good shape, weight wise. Lifting weights is a different story.

PB040664cMy initial plan was to try and do push-ups and sit-ups every few days. Again, I’ve been slacking on this. However, China was an interesting place for working out. We saw hardly any traditional workout gyms, but they have numerous outdoor workout parks. They are free to use and, I assume, developed by the local government. They have pull-up bars and dip bars at a minimum, but some of the nicer ones also have elliptical machines (see picture), back rowing machines, sit-up benches and a lot of other equipment. There are no weights to pull on or off. They’re made of metal and remind me of children’s outdoor playing equipment. I’ve used the equipment a few times, with great success–it’s great that they have these so widely available. It’s no 24-hour fitness, but you can’t beat the price of free.

As for eating healthy, this has been as difficult as I had assumed going in. We typically eat fruit for breakfast, which is a lot better than waking up and eating greasy noodles. As for lunch and dinner though, we eat out every meal. Some meals are healthier than others, but on the whole, meals in China were typically greasy, even vegetables. As we settle down in South Korea, we’ll begin cooking again for ourselves and eating out much less. Until then, we’ll make sure to keep our step count up.

Lastly, some of my learned tips for trying to stay healthy while on the road:

  1. Start off the day right with a healthy breakfast – It helps set the tone for the rest of the day. We make sure to have plenty of fruit every morning.
  2. Stretching, Push-Ups and Sit-Ups are another great way to start the day. The best success I’ve had so far with exercising is when I start the day off with a circuit of a stretching, push-ups, then sit-ups. Then starting off again with a different stretch and repeating 3 to 4 times.
  3. Look for different activities throughout the day to get a quick “set” in. We were in an amphitheater a few days ago and it turned out to be a great place for dips & incline push-ups. You run the risk of looking silly, but I actually got a thumbs up from a local, it was a nice feeling.
  4. Wear a pedometer and make sure to hit 10,000 steps a day. It’s not difficult to walk 10,000 steps a day and there’s no better way to ensure you’re active enough than measuring how you’re doing.

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One Response to “Working Out and Eating Healthy on the Road – No easy task”

  1. Push ups, pull ups, and squats go a long way where there’s no gym around. I’m a nut about working out all the time no matter where I am too.

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