If you’re someone who loves travelling but also enjoys a healthy and balanced lifestyle, the two can sometimes feel like they aren’t compatible. Inconsistent eating times, an imbalanced diet, a lack of healthy options on-the-go and messed up sleep patterns are all some of the not-so-glamorous aspects of travelling. They that can wreak havoc on your body, not just in India, but wherever you go.
When travelling India, the biggest obstacle for most health-conscious travellers is the tempting food. India has delicious street food (which, unfortunately, is usually deep-fried) and with so many festivals happening throughout the year, sweet treats are in abundance. Furthermore, if you’re lucky enough to get the opportunity to stay with a local family, then be prepared to be fed, and fed and fed some more! Indians are known for showing their hospitality through food and an Indian aunty loves nothing more than to feed.
Before you turn down a vada pav for a burpee though, read on, because India is full of fun, alternative activities that won’t feel like a workout, but will definitely bring some good exercise into your travels. As someone who has spent a year backpacking around India, and also having lived in Bangalore and currently in Mumbai, (and as someone who craves a good fitness routine in life) here are my tried and tested top tips for keeping on top of your fitness whilst in India!
Walking is not only a fantastic fitness option in itself, but it’s also a great way to explore a new place and find your feet. Whenever I land in a new place, the first thing I do (after dropping off my bags of course) is take a walk around the neighbourhood. Not only do you get comfortable with knowing where you are, but you’ll also discover things that you’d never find if you were sitting in a cab or auto rickshaw all the time.
Have a workout in a local classroom
Yep, it’s possible! As part of Clap Global’s unique Travellers In Classrooms initiative, you can get hosted by a local school and engage in a 75-minute conversation/cultural exchange with children in a local classroom. I was taught a native dance from Maharashtra that girls typically perform during the festival of Navratri. Not only was it a lot of fun, it also got my heart racing as I tried to keep up with all the steps the students were eager to teach me. Other travellers have even been taken through a yoga class by the students.
Use your body
You don’t need a gym or even any equipment to exercise when you’re travelling. Body weight exercises such as squats, lunges, burpees, push-ups, sit-ups are all awesome for keeping a strong, fit body. Even 20 minutes of a combination of these, 4 times a week is good enough. Here are a few examples you could try (all you need is the motivation to fit them in somewhere in your day!)
10 lunges (on each leg)
Complete 4-5 rounds
1 min burpees
1 min squat jumps
1 min switch lunges
1 min jumping jacks
1 min rest
Repeat 5 times
Check out Fitternity
Fitternity is a great online platform (they also have an app) that enables you to discover local gyms and fitness classes in your area. They currently operate in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Chandigarh which means that if you’re in any of these cities in India you can easily find your nearest gym or fitness studio. Whether you’re in to CrossFit, Yoga, Dance, MMA or just want some time in a gym, they have you covered. What’s also great about Fitternity is that you can book a free trial class for almost all of the gyms and classes listed!
Trekking, walking, shopping, beach walks – India offers so many options for alternative activities. Wherever you are in the country make the most of the landscape by adjusting your work out accordingly.
Pack a gym in your backpack
If you prefer using equipment in your workout there are many options which are lightweight, cheap and can easily slip into the side pocket of your backpack. Skipping ropes and resistance bands are my two personal favourites. Bring them with you from home or visit a local Decathlon store once you arrive in India to pick them up.
To sum up, I pass on to you my personal Fitness Mantra for India!
Explore local culture through activities like dance and yoga
Drink lots of water
Aim for 30 mins of exercise at least 4 times a week
Avoid deep-fried street foods (such as samosas) as much as possible
What do you do to keep fit when travelling? Share your comments below!
This article was written by Lucy Plummer, a writer and fitness lover based in Mumbai.