Staying fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is something that many digital nomads struggle with when they decide to switch to the digital nomad lifestyle. Many people are used to maintaining a regular diet and exercise routine at home, and have the goal of continuing this on the road, however transitioning these health habits to their digital nomad life can prove to be challenging.
Maintaining a consistent health and fitness routine while on the road not only provides physical benefits, but can also help mentally too. Exercise helps reduce stress, increase focus and elevate mood, so digital nomads who might be having a hard time adjusting to a new lifestyle or location often find that exercise is an incredibly helpful strategy to stay grounded.
Digital nomads who have jobs where they need to be creative may also find benefits from exercise, as studies have shown that small bouts of exercise can increase creativity for up to two hours afterwards.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle might seem more challenging than ever as a digital nomad, but fortunately, there are many strategies and resources available to help digital nomads maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle, regardless of where they are.
One of which, and a crucial one, is having a travel and medical insurance provider that has dedicated packages for digital nomads, like SafetyWing. This means they will understand your lifestyle and the needs it dictates, so you can feel more safe.
At home bodyweight workouts
One of the main struggles that digital nomads face is lack of access to the gyms and in-person workout classes that that they have at home. Fortunately there is an easy solution for this – at home body weight workouts! There are many workouts that don’t require any equipment, and that nomads can do from the comfort of their apartment, Airbnb or hotel room, regardless of how small the space is. Many bodyweight workouts target both strength and cardio, and can provide a great well-rounded workout session, whether you are a beginner or seasoned athlete. If you’re looking for inspiration for your at home workouts check out Google and YouTube, there are tons of resources available and training videos.
Bring easy to carry workout equipment
If you’re looking to add a little more edge to your home workouts, you can add small workout equipment to your packing list. Digital nomads are used to carrying everything with them and packing light, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t options for easy to transport pieces of workout equipment.
Some popular options for equipment include resistance bands and skipping ropes, these items weigh next to nothing and can help you work up a sweat easily. Only one minute of skipping rope burns 15-20 calories, making it and excellent option for a quick cardio workout while on the road.
There are so many apps out there for digital nomads who are looking for a little more structure in their workouts. Apps can offer not only customized workout plans, but also other functions that can help you stay on track, such as workout reminders straight to your phone and calorie and distance trackers. Workout apps are particularly popular among digital nomads who like to run, as they can help track new running routes, elevation and distance.
Some popular free fitness apps include Runtastic, Asana Rebel, Couch to 5K and Simply Yoga. Using a combination of apps for different kinds of workouts can also help you achieve a well-rounded fitness plan while you are enjoying the digital nomad lifestyle.
Learn from the locals
Different countries and cultures enjoy different activities to stay fit. Some countries, like Brazil, are filled with beautiful, fit people who know how to workout and show off their results. Brazil is an example of a country where fitness is a big part of young people’s lives and there a many of options to stay fit as a result. Brazilians love their CrossFit, gyms and outdoor group workout sessions. A great way to not only stay active but meet locals and experience the true lifestyle is to join in and workout like a local. Other countries, like Canada, have a huge focus on outdoor activity as a source of exercise. In the summer Canadians love to go hiking, biking and running outside, and in the winter skiing and ice skating are popular activities.
Joining in on local activities can be a great way to try a new activity you’ve never tried before, and maybe even find a new hobby for life!
Join a local sports team or sports club
Team-based sports are wildly popular around the world, and often countries will have teams and clubs available for every level of player, from absolute beginner to expert. Joining a local sports team is one of the best ways to get a great workout in and have a ton of fun. Not only will you work up a sweat but you’re also likely to meet locals and make new friends. There are few activities that bring people together as quickly as being on a team together, so get out there and join a team, you might even be the next MVP digital nomad!
Popular sports also vary hugely from country to country, making them a great option for digital nomads who really want to immerse themselves into the local culture. In places like Latin America, soccer (or futbol) reigns supreme as the sport of choice. In other countries like India, cricket is the sport of choice, and young people can often be seen playing cricket even in busy downtown cores. In beach destinations, Volleyball is the obvious sport of choice, and a great way to get a tan while getting workout.
Get out and enjoy nature
As a digital nomad, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be visiting some destinations that have access to nature and activities to do outside. One of the best ways to get your daily fix of exercise is to go exploring. Whether its hiking, surfing, skiing or other outdoor activities, you’re sure to get a great workout in and also enjoy what mother nature has to offer.
It’s not uncommon for digital nomads in beach destinations to take up surfing, for example. While it might start out as just a fun hobby or a way to get to know a new community, it can provide great fitness benefits too. Surfing burns between 500 to 800 calories per hour, making it a great form of cardio. Surfing is also a great way to improve balance, increase core strength and sculpt your upper body. Skiing and snowboarding provide a similar benefits to digital nomads who find themselves in colder environments. Skiing and snowboarding can burn anywhere from 350 to 500 calories an hour, and help you tone your legs and core. An added benefit to these kind of activities is that they often help foster community, and you’ll likely meet friend who can help you hone your skills.
Be mindful of your eating habits
So you’ve mastered the skill of staying active as a digital nomad, and that’s great. Finding ways to stay active both from the comforts of your accommodation or out in the community is key to staying healthy and fit while you are travelling. Exercise, while its important, is still half the battle, diet is the other half. Even if you are the most active person in the room, and working out every single day without fail, it will be difficult to stay fit if you are over-indulging every day. This is a trap that many digital nomads find themselves in. Often they are travelling to new places, surrounded by new and exotic foods, and this makes temptation harder than ever. Fortunately, there are some easy guidelines that can help you maintain balance when it comes to health eating as a digital nomad.
Seek out healthier options
Many digital nomad locations will have options for healthier meals. Regardless of how greasy, heavy or unhealthy the traditional food is of a country, there will almost always be restaurants and options that cater to people looking for a healthier meal. A great choice is to seek out these places and enjoy a guilt-free meal some of the time. As always, balance here is key and you don’t have to constantly be looking for the best salad bar in town, but splitting your meals between healthier and more indulgent options is a great choice.
Fortunately, many places where digital nomadism is common have caught onto the trend of digital nomads seeking lighter fare. Places like Bali and Lisbon, which are some of the most popular digital nomad destinations, are filled with restaurants and cafes that offer lighter options. Often countries will also combine traditional flavors into lighter dishes, making them both health and delicious. Now is the time to dig in!
Cook at home
Depending on your living situation, cooking at home might not always be an option, but when it is, it’s a great way to eat healthier while saving money as well. Many hostels and apartments will have either private or community kitchens available for use, so why not take the opportunity to try some new recipes while you’re on the road? Communal kitchens also open up the opportunity to meet fellow travellers, share a meal together and maybe even learn a new recipe or two.
If you don’t feel like cooking full meals at home, you can also take advantage of keeping healthy snacks in your home, so that you don’t resort to unhealthier options. Some great options for healthy snacks include fruits, nuts, granola and yogurt. As always, it’s a great idea to also learn from the locals! Explore some of the traditional snack options from the country where you are staying, and you’ll find that you’ll never get bored.
The most important thing to keep in mind when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle while living as a digital nomad is that balance is absolutely key. Staying fit is a lifestyle choice, and regardless of where you are in the world you will find that maintaining balance and prioritizing your health is something that is a long term commitment. Staying healthy is more about making small choices every day which positively impact your health, rather than making extreme lifestyle changes that are hard to maintain and leave you feeling overwhelmed.
Making an effort to work out three times and week and cook at least one meal a day at home is a great starting point, for example. Setting goals that are both realistic, and achievable will help you stick to your plan. It is also important to remember to enjoy yourself once in a while. Many people choose to indulge more on the weekend for example, or have designated cheat days. Others will accept that some countries they visit are known for their world-class cuisine, and they will decide that they would rather enjoy themselves than worry about their eating habits for a period of time. In this case they a good option is to offset more relaxed eating habits with more frequent workouts, increased walking or taking on a new active hobby.
At the end of the day, only you will know what works best for your lifestyle and body. A diet and fitness plan that works for one digital nomad might be completely unsustainable for another, and that’s ok. What is most important is to be conscious every day of your health, to take a balanced approach to fitness and to be kind and patient to your body.