fitness

Travel exercise tips aren’t all universal

On the flight home they gave me a New York Times and on the back page it had an article called “Getting in exercise while you travel.” Various of us have blogged about travel and exercise. Cate recently wrote a fabulous post about running in every place she visits. I loved that post and felt inspired by it.

I typically do run when I travel. I had an amazing experience on a running tour in Edinburgh last summer, and I usually make a point of getting out for at least one run wherever I am.

But, I had read somewhere that it is almost impossible to run in India except on treadmills in hotels that are high end enough to have fitness centres.

Even the travel tips in the article I mentioned at the beginning mention bike rides and walking tours. Now it’s true that you can get in a walking tour in India if you want, but for me a walk needs to be fairly brisk before it counts as exercise. And I don’t think brisk walking is advisable. And there is not a lot you could do to get me on a bicycle here. I’m terrified enough of biking on the road in Canada, let alone here.

Image description: A crowd of motorcycles, yellow auto-rickshaws, and cars wait in a pack at a busy intersection in Chennai for the light to turn green. In the background: green leafy trees on the right, street lights and a blue road sign above the road that says Sastri Bhavan (pointing left) and College Road (pointing right) and the same in Tamil script, a tall building with blue reflective windows in the distance.
Image description: A crowd of motorcycles, yellow auto-rickshaws, and cars wait in a pack at a busy intersection in Chennai for the light to turn green. In the background: green leafy trees on the right, street lights and a blue road sign above the road that says Sastri Bhavan (pointing left) and College Road (pointing right) and the same in Tamil script, a tall building with blue reflective windows in the distance.

The traffic is not like anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s an adventure, that’s for sure. But not one I’d like to experience on a bicycle.

And though there is a lot to love about India (a LOT), the pedestrian infrastructure is not among those lovable things. The sidewalks are routinely blocked and there are dangerous potholes that could injure you badly if you stumbled into one. For example:

Image description: ground level angle showing a big hole in the sidewalk, beyond that is the road with a car and motorcycle and yellow auto-rickshaw, and and a parked motorcycle.
Image description: ground level angle showing a big hole in the sidewalk, beyond that is the road with a car and motorcycle and yellow auto-rickshaw, and and a parked motorcycle.
Image description: old wooden wagon with metal wheels at the side of the road. A women in yellow, green and blue walks on the road beside it.
Image description: old wooden wagon with metal wheels at the side of the road. A women in yellow, green and blue walks on the road beside it.
Image description: woman in bright colours walking on the road, away from the direction of the camera towards a yellow truck. The sidewalk on her left is totally blocked by debris and a rusted trailer.
Image description: woman in bright colours walking on the road, away from the direction of the camera towards a yellow truck. The sidewalk on her left is totally blocked by debris and a rusted trailer.

That this makes it difficult to be a non-disabled runner or pedestrian is obvious. I can’t imagine trying to navigate these same roads with mobility issues.

So yes, I can take the tips about doing a hotel room workout or stretching my calves while waiting in line. But travel tips for getting in exercise aren’t always universal, and it’s not always possible to do what we’re used to doing at home when we’re abroad.

My favourite thing to do in India was to take my camera with me everywhere I went and take pictures. I would not trade that experience for anything else in the world, not even clear sidewalks and cooler temperatures to make for pleasant running.

I’m heading home now and will be hitting the Canadian pavement as soon as I get there.

Have a good one everyone!

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