Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Volunteering abroad: fitness first
A major concern for many volunteers abroad is that they may fail to keep fit while they are in a foreign country; a lot of concerns come into focus in a different environment, top of the list being climate change. Once a person is used to exercising and keeping fit in a new climate, it takes a while for a person to get acclimatized in a new place that has different weather patterns that they have gotten used to. With regard to the climate change, your best weapon is timing, coupled with starting your exercise routine in small/ shorter bits, this means if you come from a place where the weather is a bit cold, then the best time for you to exercise in a tropical area would be early in the morning, similarly the best time for someone from a tropical country to exercise would be in the late afternoon. With this in mind here are a couple of ideas that can help you keep fit while volunteering abroad.
The first and simplest way to keep fit is to take a short run or walk around your area of residence while you are volunteering, this can be a simple short 15 to 20 minute run or walk. Be sure to talk to your host or any locals you are familiar with to help you with directions or a map if possible, also try and find out if there is a good and safe area around your residence where you can have your run without any risks.
Swimming regularly is another good way to keep fit. This helps in building endurance, muscle strength and cardio-vascular fitness. You can also use swimming simply as a warm up session before you get into your more rigorous exercises, this is one way but another good use of swimming can come After a land workout a few laps in the pool can help you cool-down, and it moves blood through your muscles to help them recover.
Research is your best tool when travelling abroad, if you like running, find out the best trails to do so, along the same line if you are used to keeping fit through aerobics, then you need to find out where the best fitness gyms are located in the area where you are residing during your volunteer experience, bear in mind that you may not necessarily find an aerobics routine that is the same as that you are used to at home, so it will help you to speak to the locals and any aerobics instructors you come into contact with to find an aerobics class that is most similar to what you are used to, doing what your body is already familiar with is much easier than starting up with a whole new workout routine.
One thing you need to remember when going abroad for a period of time to be spent volunteering, is not to be afraid of carrying your workout gear, it may add a few pounds to your luggage but it is worth it, your body produces endorphins from a good work out, this will help you keep your stress levels down while at the same time making sure you are not worse off in fitness by the time you get back home
Finally, try and have fun as well with your work out, the point is to keep fit and stress free, so you can invite your friends and some of the locals to join you, this will help keep you motivated and act as a way of staying with your work out to the end