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Staying Healthy & Fit Abroad


If you’re like me and a health nut at home, it can be an adjustment to adapt your workouts while studying abroad. Your lifestyle at home will be very different from wherever you’re studying abroad, but that is okay! I was extremely anxious about this before I went abroad, and I thought that joining a gym was going to be the answer to all my worries. Little did I know, the gym can be quite expensive in Florence, and I was not willing to pay for something that I wouldn’t have access to on the weekends while I was traveling. There are so many ways to stay active regardless of what city you will be living in. Here are some tips for staying healthy and fit while you’re away from your home country:

1. Set aside 30 minutes to 1 hour each day.

This is a great way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Bring along your roommates and friends if you like working out with people. You can do circuits right in your apartment even if you have very little space; this is what I did, and it worked out great! If you’re someone that absolutely needs a gym, I would encourage you to wait a few weeks because it’s very expensive, and you want to make sure you’re using it if you purchase a membership. But remember: working out can be free and there are alternatives to a gym!

2. Buy fresh food from the market.

My roommates and I would walk to the grocery store around the corner every Monday. We would always buy fresh produce and ingredients to cook at home. This is perfect for trying the local foods and establishing positive cooking habits as well. I found that the markets were cheap, which is a great incentive for trying new foods that we may not have here in the United States.

3. Take walks.

Take advantage of good weather! You will most likely have one or two warmer months in your host country, no matter which semester you study abroad. Ask your roommates or friends to go explore the city or find new shops you’ve never passed before. You will be surprised what you might find, including your new favorite restaurants or cafés! Get lost -- it’s okay to not know where you’re going the first time, and this is the only way you will get your bearings around the city.

4. Join a local club/team.

This depends on your study abroad location, but many places have running clubs or sports teams that you can participate in. Research your specific location, and talk to CEA's onsite staff to see what they’re involved in. If you put in your health and wellness survey that you like to run/stay active, they often will help you with suggestions onsite. This is how I found out about running in Florence, and I was able to participate in the half marathon while I was abroad with CEA staff! It was such a great experience, and I encouraged a few of my friends to do it with me too.

5. Drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep.

I know it sounds simple, but it’s important to drink a lot of water. You will feel dehydrated a lot of the time, especially when you first arrive. Drinking water will help you feel hydrated, full, and healthy. I encourage you to bring a water bottle that you can refill because it will save you money, and it forces you to drink water when you’re out and about. Sleep is also a major factor in maintaining a balanced lifestyle while studying abroad -- so be sure to rest and recharge after busy days in a new place.

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