He Said/She Said: Staying in Shape While Traveling

He Said/She Said: Staying in Shape While Traveling


Staying in shape on the road?  This is like a New Year’s Resolution to me, sure, I want to stay in shape, but it is a lot easier said than done.  The biggest barrier is the general wear of traveling, it takes a lot of energy to trying to communicate, navigating new places and being vigilant.  Pile that on top of the sweltering heat of many places leaves thinkCHUA a tired boy.  The thought of waking up before I have to in order to exercise is difficult when the alarm clock rings.

The problem is that this trip is highlighting my need to stay in shape.  My approaching 30 year old body is not traveling as well as it used to.  The ill-fitting bikes, long bus rides and lack of ergronomical seating in Asia leaves me aching.  Additionally, handling the unbalanced/unhealthy diets of the places we are visiting is taking a toll on youthful figure.  Since I am not going to allow this trip to leave me with muffintopped and hunchbacked, this will be the trip I make an attempt to stay in shape.

Luckily, this trip I brought along my personal trainer, LOCAVORista.  For reasons unknown, she wakes early in the morning with a willingness to exercise.  Personally, I wake up early in the morning with an urge to continue sleeping.  Sadly though, my urge to continue sleeping is overrun by her, uh, “not quietness” when awake.  That means it is time for a run and run we have started to do.

We chose running as the exercise of choice because it can be done anywhere.  There is no need for equipment, scheduling or designated area.  All you need are running shoes and will.  The willingness is hard to come by, but that is where having a partner such as LOCAVORista is useful.  She is utterly hopeless with directions and stands out like a sore thumb because she’s blonde and running without being chased.  This gives me my motivation to wake up and run, if I don’t go with her I would be left behind to worry about whether she could find her way home.  Hopefully we will be able to run 3-5 miles 3 times a week as this trip goes on.


One of the most basic elements of living a healthy life at home or on the road is getting an adequate amount of exercise. Proper exercise is unfortunately one of the most ignored factors in a healthy lifestyle, which is one of the main reasons why obesity is becoming such a common problem.  However, on the road I see very few obese people.  Not only because I am traveling in Asia or developing countries, but because the people traveling are also pretty trim.  Some of them are making a conscious effort to get enough exercise, but many just walk or bike to the things they want to see since they don’t have a car.  We do some of both, we do our best to get in a run each morning, but we are also naturally more active as we walk to the attractions in each place we visit.  From my experience it has to be a combination of both.

That being said it isn’t always easy to coax yourself to get up and exercise after a long night or in the heat of most asian countries.  However, traveling reminds me of my age and that I’m not twenty anymore, if I don’t keep myself in shape I won’t be able to do some of the things I am most excited for such as hike the Annapurna circuit in Nepal or Tiger Leaping Gorge in China.  Keeping everything in balance is key and that’s why if we know that we will be trekking to waterfalls all day like we did in Chiang Mai we won’t run in the morning.  The other important thing to have while staying in shape on the road is a partner as it can be unsafe to run alone in some places.  So, this is me encouraging you wherever you are to take the time to squeeze in a workout, whether it be yoga, running, biking or anything else you fancy.  You won’t regret it.

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» dad :
Mar 31, 2011

surprise, surprise i am with Matt on this one……here i thought travel was all about “look at my muffin top”……this one might give you saint hood Matthew or at least a couple of “atta boys”…………enjoy siem riep…..you do have to go to the temple bar in honor of your brother and dont forget that restaurant upsatairs and across the street from temple bar on the right as you face the bar……those directions were for Erica……be safe…….love you bka

LOCAVORista Reply:

Dad, you didn’t think that all that marathon training we did was for nothing did you? Getting thinkCHUA in marathon shape was a key part of my plan to get him to run with me on the trip. And don’t worry we’ve been to Temple Bar, who can resist 5o cent beers?

» Andrew Johnson :
Apr 7, 2011

LOL, so many amazing quotes in this article!

But now you have me worried with “I’m not twenty anymore” and “My approaching 30 year old body is not traveling as well as it used to.” Is it really that bad? After all, 40 is the new 20, right? Either way this post convinced me that if you two are tired (the most active people I know) perhaps it’s time to start steroids or crystal meth to get my energy up. Couldn’t hurt.

» Cindy :
Apr 11, 2011

great reading… both of you are super /prolific essayist .getting to follow if computer is around…. keep going…e.c

» Donna :
Apr 13, 2011

Well, I tried to respond to this while on my trip and something timed out on me and I lost it all before submitting. So I’ll try again! I have to agree that traveling can be a lot of work! And if you think your 30-year-old body is having trouble coping, wait until you hit my age! Oh, but that’s right … that’s why you’re doing this now! But you both have itchy feet so I suspect that when you’re my age, you’ll still be traveling, even though you might not be biking across countries or climbing mountains. But then again, if you really are successful at staying in shape throughout your life, you might be! Today is my second day home from the trip to Europe … yesterday I pretty much vegged out … didn’t even get out of my PJs. That flight home (and over) is getting more and more difficult the older I get. Sleep is something that’s harder to travel without when you age. But those of us who love to travel (apparently everyone following your adventures!) will always find ways to cope in order to visit those places we want to see. But as I get older coming home also has a treasured place for me … just to be where I can decide if I want to pull up the window shades or leave my PJs on is also part of the experience. Reading your entries tires me out sometimes but it energizes that part of me that secretly wishes I were there with you. Traveling vicariously is also not a bad thing! Keep having fun and keep tickling my itchy feet!

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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.


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