Today’s Solutions: November 28, 2022

Jet lag is the bane of all long-haul trips. Instead of making the most out of your new surroundings once you land after hours and hours of sitting on the plane, your body tends to have different ideas involving naps and stomach problems.

According to experts in travel and health, jet lag is “the desynchronization between the internal human circadian system and the time at the new destination.” This usually means our psychological, physiological, and behavioral patterns are on the fritz as a result.

We feel jet-lagged when we travel across time zones because this creates a shift in our natural rhythms. The effects are especially pronounced if we lose or gain three or more hours.

The good news is that there are some effective strategies to tame the jet lag beast, such as exercise! Working out is a science-backed tactic to fight off the effects of jet lag. According to multiple studies and experts, this is probably due to the known impacts of exercise as a natural stimulant that boosts energy levels and our body’s ability to self-regulate.

To reap the most benefits of any workouts you take while traveling, here are a few targeted strategies:

Time your workout right

This study published in the Journal of Physiology that explored whether exercise re-shifts circadian rhythms found that, in general, exercising shifted circadian rhythms. However, the experiment dove deeper into the topic by examining the response of almost 100 participants to three consecutive days of moderate treadmill exercise at one of eight times throughout the day and night.

This allowed the scientists to determine when the exercise was the most effective. According to their findings, exercising at seven in the morning, and between one and four in the afternoon, local time, resulted in the greatest phase advances (which means bedtime and wake-up time move earlier in the day).

On the other hand, exercising between seven and ten in the evening resulted in the greatest phase delays (which means bedtime and wake-up time move later in the day). This means that the former workout schedule is best for travelers going west to east (to balance the advance in time) and the latter is optimal for those going east to west.

Does intensity make a difference?

Traveling already stresses out our bodies, so adding more stress isn’t the best way forward.

“You want to scale back the intensity of the exercise to a low or moderate because you want to limit additional stressors,” explains owner of Quantum Performance Andrew Barr, DPT. Due to his experience in helping the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets alleviate jet lag and studying how travel fatigue could impact injury risk and performance, Barr has become an expert on the subject.

He suggests a brisk walk, a gentle yoga session, or a leisurely bike ride around the area you’re visiting. 

“If you’ll be staying for an extended period at the new destination, then you can ramp up to the higher intensity as you acclimate to the changes.”

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