How to Fight Jet Lag with Exercise
‘Tis the season for holiday travel!
Whether you’re visiting family across the country or vacationing with friends abroad, if you’re crossing multiple time zones, you’re likely to deal with an unwanted companion: jet lag.
It’s hard to enjoy traveling when you’re walking around in a fog, struggling to keep your eyes open!
Fortunately, there’s a simple, natural way to fight jet lag so you can feel like yourself faster and get right to the fun stuff: Exercise.
What is jet lag and why does it happen?
Jet lag occurs when there’s an interruption to your biological clock (also known as your circadian rhythm). This happens when you travel between time zones quickly — and the more time zones you cross, the more severe your jet lag can be (and the longer it can take to recover).
Your circadian rhythm originates in the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that regulates sleep, appetite, temperature, and other processes.
People experience jet lag differently, but the most common effects are:
- Weakness or lethargy
- General confusion or feeling “out of it”
You may be tempted to head straight for the nearest bed, but resist the urge — especially if you’ve arrived during the daytime hours.
Don’t sleep it off… work it out!
How does exercise help fight jet lag?
You may not feel like exercising first thing when you arrive, but you should. Here’s why:
- Physical activity gives you an energy boost, which will help combat the sluggishness you feel with jet lag.
- Exercising outdoors is even better — daylight sends your body the signal that it’s time to be awake and active.
- Working out at the same time you normally would at home helps your body get back on its regular schedule and adjust to the time change more quickly.
Don’t just take our word for it — it’s been long proven.
A study by the University of Toronto in 1987 showed that exercise helps fight jet lag.
In the study, researchers put a group of hamsters through an 8-hour time change, then made half of them run on an exercise wheel while the other half slept.
On average, the hamsters who ran adjusted to the new time zone in 1.5 days. The sleepers took 8.5 days!
So plan on a 30-minute, light-to-moderate workout — such as a brisk walk, yoga, or simple body weight exercises — shortly after you arrive.
Tips for keeping up a healthy routine while traveling
The holidays are the perfect time to step back and celebrate the year’s accomplishments. But don’t let your vacation undo all the hard work you’ve put in at the gym.
Besides, the longer you go without working out, the harder it will be to get back into your exercise routine when you get home.
Here are some tips for staying healthy and active on vacation:
- Pack your workout clothes. This will help you create the right mindset from the get-go.
- Don’t be deterred if you can’t maintain your normal exercise routine. You don’t need weight machines or special equipment to work out! Go for a hike or a bike ride, go skiing — get outside and enjoy your surroundings!
- Treat yourself, but don’t go crazy. Any vacation is likely to include some culinary indulgences, and by all means, enjoy! But try to balance out those cocktails and desserts with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and water.
- Keep up your THRIVE morning routine. Meal planning goes out the window when you’re away from home, and healthy eating habits can be a challenge to keep up. The THRIVE Premium Lifestyle Capsules, Ultra Micronized Shake Mix, and Lifestyle DFT deliver the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids you need to feel your best throughout your trip!
Now go and enjoy your vacation — you’ve earned it. Happy holidays and safe travels!