Here’s how travelling can make you fitter and thinner without even trying
There is no denying that stress is something travel provides in abundance, and in any number of different ways, from the entirely routine to the utterly unpredictable. Never mind what happens when you at last touch down at your destination, whether that’s Mogadishu or the Maldives, just getting to Gatwick can take years off your life. While hardly desirable for its own sake, stress is a medically proven cause of weight loss. Something about speeding up the metabolism and reducing appetite, I believe. And if you like you can rebrand or recategorise your stress as…
Which has all the benefits of stress and none of the unpleasantness. A triumph of mind over matter and a win-win situation for the waistline.
New and interesting places stimulate our curiosity. We’re likely to experience a heightened urge to get up and wander around – travel turns us all into toddlers.
4. GETTING LOST
An almost inevitable consequence of wandering around in a strange place. Doubling back on our own tracks, going round in circles, missing turnings, simply abandoning ourselves to the magic of the moment – all this adds up to more mileage and more health benefits. Walk on!
5. LACK OF SLEEP
Sleepless in Seattle? Insomniac in Innsbruck? Tossing in Toledo, turning in Turin? Look on the bright side – which you might as well do, since your eyes are probably open anyway – and see in this common side-effect of travelling across time zones a means to fidget yourself thin in faraway places.
All right, so this one can go either way. A fortnight spent stuffing your face with Sachertorte and glugging down coffee topped with whipped cream in Viennese cafés or engaging in stomach-distending Man v Food-style ‘challenges’ in diners across the American Midwest is not going to result in net weight loss. Whereas a fortnight spent eating street food with your bare hands in Kathmandu or Dili might well do so. Actually, I strongly suspect that, when travelling in exotic places, you’re much less likely to lose weight through food poisoning than you are through your own culinary conservatism. If the food on offer seems gross or weird to you and it’s difficult to source more familiar fare of the sort that normally sustains your muffin-top, you’re simply going to eat less.
One of the most pronounced – and beneficial – effects of travel is to curb certain aspects of habitual behaviour. Personally, I notice this most strikingly in terms of a desire to drink less while I’m away than when I’m at home. This sounds counterintuitive, and no doubt there are exceptions – but I’m sure I can’t be alone. I suppose it’s got to do with wanting to make the most of what’s going on around you in unfamiliar surroundings. There’s nothing too shaming in finding yourself mildly befuddled in front of Strictly Come Dancing: The Results, with the dishes done, the cat on your lap and a somewhat depleted bottle of Tesco’s Finest at your elbow. But you wouldn’t want to be that way in front of the rose window in the north transept at Chartres, would you?
‘Budget travel’ is one of the great oxymorons of all time. What fool ever expected to save money by travelling? Nevertheless, fretting about your bank balance while you’re away might just have an upside too. For one thing, doing so will probably lead you to economise on food or drink – the old ‘Honestly, I’m happy to skip lunch – I had a massive breakfast’ or ‘Tap water’s fine, thank you’ scenario. Moreover, such penny-pinching itself may quickly become a cause of stress (see item 1, above), perhaps even to the point where you start losing sleep over it (see item 5), which might leave you with a fuzzy head, causing you to get lost while out taking in the sights the following morning (item 4)… all of which could see you shedding pounds while saving pounds.
IN SHORT, forget the fad diets, unplug your Nutribullet and go travelling instead.