Hi, I’m Dr. Jenny Yu, Healthline’s Medical Expert and Lonely Planet Travel Health Expert. Welcome to my column, where each week I’ll share stories and insights, experiences and opportunities, and perspectives on how you can take the "well" traveled path in your journeys.
I’ve already recommended maintaining the simple habits of hydration and eating whole foods to help you stay healthy while traveling. But there are plenty more ways we can adapt our habits while exploring the world, and one important focus is fitness.
When I first visited Iceland in the early 2000s, the vast, sparsely populated landscape exposed me to new terrains that seemed like they were from another world. It was easy to get my daily steps in while hiking the Skaftafell National Park. Whatever fitness routine I had at home, I certainly didn’t even have to think about it in order to keep it up while on the road.
Healthline: How All That Pandemic Hiking Is Benefitting Your Brain
Many outfitters, such as Backroads, offer biking and hiking tours throughout the world — essentially building exercise and sightseeing into one trip. And for adventure-enthusiasts, one can always venture onto less-traveled paths, like this new bike route in the Westfjords region of Iceland or the myriad of hiking trails of the Julian Alps of Slovenia. The outdoors afford us plenty of opportunities to seek fitness in all terrains and seasons.
There are so many different fitness activities that keep us engaged: walking is such an underrated form of exercise and we often forget the many benefits of just going for a stroll. One of my favorite activities is to roam a city without a purpose, agenda or a destination. The act of getting lost allows you to truly be present with your surroundings — and to get some exercise.
The difficult-to-translate French term “flaneur” captures this act of wandering or strolling so well. Paris, with its parks, green spaces and alleyways lined with shops, is a perfect example of a city rich in culture — a simple stroll allows for one to explore, observe, document and unleash their creativity.
If you’re an avid urban explorer, the many famed walking cities like London, Tokyo, Prague and Bogota — but also lesser-known ones such as Taipei, Porto and Florence — will provide you with both fitness and culture.
Healthline: What Are the Benefits of Walking?
Besides the physical benefits of walking, the mental aspect of walking is well-documented. Walking improves our circulation, allows our minds to wander, and can improve our overall mental wellbeing. If you are limited in your mobility, being with others in an outdoor capacity can help to boost your mood. Join me in taking a stroll!
For more information on COVID-19 and travel, check out Lonely Planet's Health Hub.
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