It‘s officially holiday season. While we all love jetting off to new places, the downside to hopping on that red eye is, of course, jet lag. Even if you manage to snooze a bit on the plane, changing time zones has a nasty habit of throwing your whole body off track, and leaving you sleepy and sluggish for days. Good for no one, especially a Free Athlete with a tight training plan and big goal. So here’s how to leave it on the plane and keep track of your time, as if it were a PB.
First things first, what is jet lag?
If you‘ve ever crossed several time zones in the same trip, chances are you’ve experienced jet lag, or the unsettling feeling that you might pass out, throw up or collapse at any moment. Jet lag is a sleep disorder that hits you when your circadian rhythm is disturbed by changing time zones. To your body, it might feel like the middle of the night, but to your mind, it‘s the middle of the day. Your body‘s struggle to adjust is what leaves you with the disconnected feeling of jet lag.
How can exercise help?
Because all of our bodies are so different, jet lag affects us all in different ways. Some people may feel more tired than usual, while others might get headaches or an upset stomach. Although you may not feel like exercising, it could help you adjust to the new time zone by giving you a much needed energy boost. You’ll find this helpful when you‘re feeling a bit sluggish.
Maintaining an exercise routine
Many people go on holiday with zero intention of sticking to their workout plans. While a break every now and again is totally acceptable, there‘s no reason you need to drop all of your healthy habits and become completely sedentary – getting at least some form of exercise is still important. Here are some suggestions to help you stay active on vacation:
Don‘t think of exercise as something separate
Being active should be a part of your holiday. Rent a bike and explore the city as you cycle, or plan a hike if you‘re vacationing in the mountains or countryside. If your exercise fits seamlessly into your holiday plans, it won‘t feel like a chore and you‘ll be more likely to stick with it.
Ever notice how thirsty you feel after a long flight? That‘s because flying can really dehydrate your body. Make sure you drink plenty of water during your flight, as well as after you land. Not only will it help your workout performance, but staying hydrated will fight the physical symptoms of jet lag and leave you feeling more motivated to train.
Try to exercise at the same time of day as you normally do – it can help your body adjust to the time zone. If you normally train at 7am at home, try to exercise around 7am on your vacation.
It‘s all about time and place
If possible, try to exercise outside during daylight hours. The daylight can help keep your circadian rhythm in check, since the light signals to your body that it‘s time to be awake. Falling asleep after an evening workout is difficult enough, but coupled with the effects of jet lag, that extra energy boost can make it even harder to catch some much needed rest.
Set your workout routine before your next flight, and stick to it. Whether it‘s your Coach training, a long hike or a cycle around the city, when it comes to jet lag, any form of physical activity is better than nothing.