5 Easy Ways To Stay Active When You Travel

Ed Yourdon, Flickr

Traveling doesn’t mean having to give up your regular workout routines, even when you’re on vacation and letting yourself relax a little. There are plenty of travel specific workouts to be done, from CrossFit to general hotel gym repetitions, but the best, and easiest, way to stay active while you travel is to do just that: stay active. Here are five easy ways to do just that.

1. Do a morning yoga session
A round of sun salutations every morning will get you ready for the day as well as keep your muscles happy. Plan on a short and simple yoga routine that you can incorporate into your morning before your day gets hectic.

2. Go for a run
Running is my favorite form of travel workout, not only because it’s easy, but because it lets you explore a new place in a different way, be it an urban industrial area or a beautiful National Park. Running shoes double as walking shoes, so in terms of keeping your packing light, throwing in your running gear won’t make a huge difference.

3. Bike
So many cities nowadays offer bikeshare systems, which means getting around on two wheels while you’re traveling is as easy as signing up for a pass. It’s a budget-friendly mode of transportation, but also one that lets you see the city and get some fresh air all at the same time.

4. Walk
This one seems stupidly simple, because obviously if you’re exploring a new place you’re going to be doing some walking. But challenge yourself to walk more. Instead of taking the bus or subway, walk to your next destination. Leave extra time to explore places by foot. Slow down and travel at a new pace. You’ll get more physical activity and in turn explore cities in a whole new way.

5. Kayak, roller blade, stand-up paddle board, hike, etc.
If you like being active, then find the travel activities that keep you doing the things you love. Better yet, even plan your trips around them. Who doesn’t want to travel to Cinque Terre to hike after all? Be it stand up paddle boarding in warm tropical waters or snowshoeing on a wintry nature trail, there are many adventure travel options, so seek out local tours or rental shops that will let you explore in a creative way.

Experts Agree: Squat Toilets Are Good For You

squat toilets
Sean McLachlan

Chances are your morning glory isn’t good for you.

In the Western world we’re second place when it comes to doing Number Two. A growing number of medical experts agree that our seat toilets aren’t nearly as good as squat toilets, which are what’s used on the majority of places in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

It all comes down to positioning.

The medical textbook Gastroenterology, the definitive reference to the subject and written by three MDs, states, “The ideal posture for defecation is the squatting position, with the thighs flexed upon the abdomen. In this way the capacity of the abdominal cavity is greatly diminished and intra-abdominal pressure increased, thus encouraging expulsion …”

In plain English, squatting releases pressure on your rectum and makes it easier to poop. Sitting in a Western style toilet is means you’re pushing against your own muscles. Many doctors say that using squat toilets reduce the chances of constipation, hemorrhoids, even bowel cancer.
Neuroscientist Daniel Lametti writes that wile there haven’t been any smoking gun statistics for cancer, it makes intuitive sense that people would be less constipated if they squat and less likely to put strain on their anus that would cause hemorrhoids.

Having spent a great deal of time in countries where squat toilets were the only option, I can testify that squatting is easier on the bum, if not the thighs. You get through your business quicker, and it does feel easier and more natural. It’s how we’re built, after all. Interested in learning more? Check out this article on how to use squat toilets.

The Best Vacation Spots For Smokers

Smokers might have a hard time finding anywhere to light up these days in the United States, but across the world smoking doesn’t always come with a stigma. As big tobacco companies find new frontiers, Asia is the hottest market. This is especially true in Indonesia, where awareness on health hazards is low and advertisement push to make young people brand loyal (see the documentary above for more on that).

In New York City, a pack of cigarettes will set consumers back almost $15. In other places in the world, however, cigarettes come at a fraction of the price-at least at first look. The cost of a pack of cigarettes in Indonesia is only $0.64 — a price that also would buy about 44 servings of rice. Yikes.Some of the cheapest places in the world to find smokes include:

  1. Indonesia: $0.64 a pack
  2. Turkey: $0.77 a pack
  3. South Africa: $0.87 a pack
  4. Malaysia: $1.00 a pack
  5. Panama: $1.20 a pack

Of course, cost might not be much of a factor for smoking jetsetters. Instead, finding a country that is generally accepting of this “bad habit” might be a more viable option (you know, somewhere that you can smoke in a bar without getting the stink eye).

Here are the top countries by annual per capita consumption of cigarettes:

  1. Serbia: 2,861 cigarettes per adult per year
  2. Bulgaria: 2,822 cigarettes per adult per year
  3. Greece: 2,795 cigarettes per adult per year
  4. Russia: 2,786 cigarettes per adult per year
  5. Moldova: 2,479 cigarettes per adult per year (and lots of wine, too!)

And in case you’re curious, the United States clocks in at position 51, with an estimated 1,028 cigarettes per adult per year.

Will people start traveling to certain destinations in search of cheap cigarettes and like-minded smokers? Probably not. But it is interesting to know where big tobacco companies still have — or are forging new — strongholds across the world.

Should Pollution Stop You From Traveling?

Shubert Ciencia, Flickr

Unless you’re traveling in the far backcountry, you’re bound to experience some pollution on the road. Go to New York City and there will be grime on your face when you return to the hotel room at night. But does the amount of pollution in a city or country stop you from traveling there?

In China, tourism has seen a serious drop in response to the country’s “airpocalypse.” In January the air was designated as hazardous to human health for several consecutive days, and the travelers haven’t been the same since; from January to June, tourism has dropped by 5%. In Beijing, it’s even worse, with the number of foreign tourists visiting the country’s capital falling by 15%. “… the air pollution trends in China will be difficult to reverse and their impacts will be significantly negative on the tourism industry,” said Tim Tyrrell, former director of the Center for Sustainable Tourism at Arizona State University.China isn’t alone. In northern Thailand, Chiang Mai has experienced a similar situation, with tourists avoiding the city during the spring when a lot of “slash-and-burn” farming takes place — that’s burning forest in order to make room for fields. And in Rome, you can’t cruise the Tiber river anymore on account of all of the trash in it.

But when it comes to pollution and tourism, it’s a two-way street. The effects of tourism on the state of air quality and beyond is just as big of a problem. Then of course there are those travelers who are moved to seek out the polluted areas of the world. But should pollution stop you from traveling?

In places where pollution is a serious issue, it’s a factor worth thinking about. In India for example, air pollution is the fifth leading cause of death. Not that a visit to the Taj Mahal will inevitably be your last, but if you think that you as a traveler are immune, think again. Check travel alerts and be aware of the air quality of the places you are traveling. Being informed is better than being sick.

The Plague Closes Los Angeles Forest

Angeles National Forest
CDC

Officials evacuated and closed parts of the Angeles National Forest after finding a dead squirrel that was infected with bubonic plague, the BBC reports.

Scientists are currently examining the squirrel to see if it died of the disease or of other causes. Park officials are using insecticides on squirrel burrows to kill off any fleas, which is how the disease spreads from one animal to another. The Twisted Arrow, Broken Blade and Pima Loops of the Table Mountain campgrounds are closed until further notice, although hiking is still permitted.

The plague killed about a third of Europe’s population in the 14th century but is not nearly as active these days. Only four people have contracted the disease in Los Angeles County since 1984. This map from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows each case of the plague in the United States since 1970. About 80% were of the bubonic variety and most cases were not fatal, since antibiotic treatment is usually successful. In related news, researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Germany are developing an easy test to detect the plague in its early stages.

As you can see, there are two main clusters. New Mexico gets about half of all the human infections in the U.S. In the 1980s, the worst plague decade, it had slightly more than a hundred cases. Worldwide, most plague cases are in south central Africa and east Asia. People tend to get it while engaged in outdoor activities.