I rise as the morning sun awakens me, peeking through the floor-to-ceiling window that gives me a view to the sprawling fluffy white sands and Caribbean Sea. I'm in Cancun, and it's the second day of my vacation.
My dreamy brain always plans for morning runs along the sands as the surf provides the hypnotic soundtrack. Well, in this part of Mexico in mid-September, it's not quite as breezy and enjoyable as I always imagine these runs, especially as the morning temps shoot higher quickly. I know this. I have been to Cancun many times. Yet, I continue to romanticize this daily plan, figuring it to be a regular part of starting my day during my trip.
Still, I give it a try once again. And this morning jaunt proves to be an invigorating run under the sun -- if not lasting as long as my usual jogs. Relief is available, too, as I jump into the refreshing surf just steps away.
After that, my daily runs take place inside on the treadmill at the well-equipped gym at the Westin Lagunamar for the remainder of my trip. While it was far too hot to run outside for long in the Riviera Maya in summer, I make it a regular practice to explore the destinations I visit by running. You can find fabulous running trails all over the United States and throughout the cities, villages and countryside in Europe. Here are seven reasons you should run when you travel.
You get better sleep -- The whole idea for this post came because my wife, Colleen, noted how well she was sleeping during our weeklong vacation in Mexico. I told her that it had to be because she was starting each day with a workout and a run. (Also, probably because we were finishing those days with plenty of good food, beers and hours in the sun doing other stuff, too.) Studies have shown that getting at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week can significantly improve your sleep quality.
You can indulge -- I know this much, and I'm sure it's true for you, too. Travel means trying new things, and food is a big part of that. It sure feels good to be able to eat a little (or a lot) more when on vacation without any guilt. When you can run a few miles at least every other day or so, you can also feel good about earning those extra calories.
You'll be fully immersed -- When you hit the road running, you look like a local. (Unless you're wearing your Senor Frog's T-shirt or vintage American-flag pattern Zubaz pants). This means no hassles from aggressive vendors hawking tours or souvenirs. If you find a park or trail, you also can mix in with resident runners, say hi and ask for their recommendations on the best place to visit, have a drink or get a meal.
You'll save money -- If you're more mobile and physically fit, you can keep your money in your pocket. That is, if you're able to run or walk to a place of interest in your destination, you won't need to drop any (or nearly as much) cash on taxis or bus rides. We can often plan a day during which we take a jog or long walk to a beach or other location for a visit, then either walk or bus back to our hotel or cruise ship.
You get a boost -- Regular exercise gives you more energy throughout the day. I know there are scientific reasons like increased levels of energy-promoting and mood-enhancing neurotransmitters that come from daily physical activity like running. I just know I feel a rush because I worked up a sweat and can now move on to the fun stuff, like further exploring a spot, discovering new landmarks and savoring the beers.
You'll be healthier -- Exercise is good for you. Duh. If running (or biking or walking or hiking or pushups) is part of your regular exercise regimen, you should do it when you travel, too. When you incorporate fitness into your lifestyle, it becomes easier over time. In fact, I feel weird when I take a few days off from getting in a workout. Good health and fitness will allow you to travel better and longer. So get out there!
Thanks for reading, and make sure you pack those running shoes and have a great time exploring.
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