Staying Fit Abroad
Just be sure to dodge the tourists while jogging through the city
When you're studying abroad, it doesn't mean you have to compromise your physical and mental health! There are plenty of ways to stay fit and maintain your health during your busy travel season.
You'll find that gyms and health clubs are quite expensive throughout Europe. They cater to those higher up in the social spectrum, which unfortunately doesn't leave the collegiate demographic with too many options. Instead, get creative!
Europeans are known for walking everywhere they go. Because gas costs more than three times as much as it does in the States, cars often aren't an option. Forego that taxi, bus or metro ride, and get in your cardio by hoofing it. Plus, walking to destinations is a great way to get to know the city you are studying in!
While Italians might turn up their noses at the idea, running outside is a great way to see a city while getting a workout. Additionally, running gear (shoes and shorts) doesn't take up as much space in your bag as sports like hockey or American football. Check out MapMyRun.com for route ideas posted by real people around the world.
Public bike rental systems are popping up all over Europe and are an affordable way to go the distance. Some countries require a more extensive registration process than others, but they're not exclusive to locals. I actually bought a used bike during my semester abroad in Rome and sold it towards the end of the semester on Italian eBay, which ended up working well. Check out MapMyRide.com for route ideas from the same crew as the running site.
Join a school club or sports team
Besides being a great way to make friends outside of your normal social circle, schools have open tryouts towards the beginning of each semester for their more competitive teams. Other activities like yoga often run throughout the year and are open to anyone so be sure to check that out as well. If you're at a UK university, you can often join the collegiate rowing club (not the University team).
Open Air Gyms
In certain cities, there are outdoor, open air type gyms with equipment that community members can use for free; check out your local parks and you may just come across one of these free fitness areas
This may sound like a no brainer, but actually pretty hard to do considering bread and beer are staples in the European diet. Getting your daily dose of veggies, fruits and protein will keep your brain and body functioning properly, which will improve mental and physical health
If there is anything I have learned while stuying abroad, it's that drinking water is ESSENTIAL to surviving such a mobile lifestyle. There's a little joke out there that Europeans are in a constant state of dehydration, and you'll come to realize how true this statement is. My advice: carry a water bottle everywhere. There are fountains in some cities to fill up bottles; take advantage of them.
I went to Rome with a few of my friends. Before we got there, our tour guide, Rhianne, sent us plenty of information regarding how to arrive at the hostel, and what our Itinerary would be like. She also made it a point to meet up with people the night before if their flight got in early so students would have something to do. Having a tour guide that lived in the city was amazing. It made me not have to stress about getting lost, and provided many opportunities to eat at the best restaurants, and, most importantly, the best Gelato places. By the end of the tour, I was good friends with each of the 14 members of the tour group, including our tour guide. I definitely recommend taking a tour through WSA because the guides make you feel like they actually care about each person on the trip. I knew that I could just relax, and enjoy my trip.Kyle Cook, Lebanon Valley College ~ Kingston University, London, Fall 2015
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