How to Prioritize Your Health and Wellness on the Road
Wellness on the road is crucial, because getting sick has an immediate impact on your plans and enjoyment of your surroundings. Luckily, as fitness pros and trainers who own an RV, we have a lot of experience with RV health on the road, and we’re here to share our best tips on how to prioritize mental health and wellness with you.
The goal is to give you the tools to help you optimize lots of different areas of your health, from boosting your immune system to balancing out your hormones to keeping your gut happy, all of which improve brain chemistry, resulting in better moods, energy, and resilience against illness, no matter where you go.
We follow these tips and tricks to optimize our health when we travel:
Get outside every day
Plants eat carbon dioxide and create oxygen, so natural environments with an abundance of plant life are the perfect place to get some fresh air. Being in nature is proven to boost mental health, not to mention that it’s easier to go for a long walk when you’re surrounded by the peace and quiet of a forest or a mountain or a beach. You can practically feel your blood pressure lowering when you’re outside in nature. Scientific studies show that being surrounded by trees and greenery reduces stress hormones like cortisol and releases positive neurochemicals that reduce anxiety, which brings you a sense of calm and an elevated mood.
Keep a routine
At home, people often maintain a lot of different routines. You might meditate, take daily vitamins, drink a good amount of water, get in regular workouts and have meals at the same time every day. But so much can change when we manage our health on the road. Often we don’t even realize it, but when we travel, a lot of our good habits vanish because our schedules are so different.
But a system called “habit stacking” can help. With habit stacking, you link habits back to back in a single sequence. One action triggers you to remember the next, but everything is linked together as one habit.
It might look like this example sequence:
- At night, leave a glass on your RV kitchen counter.
- When you wake up, seeing the glass triggers the habit you want to have of hydrating first thing in the morning.
- With the glass on the counter next to your vitamin bottle, drinking water reminds you to take your vitamins.
- Near the glass, you’ve also left the dog leash out, reminding you to take your dog for a walk, thereby getting in some morning activity to get your blood moving.
Each habit triggers the next because you’ve kept everything close together, providing visual cues. You don’t need to “remember” to take your vitamins; the vitamins are right next to your water glass, making it a no-brainer.
Other habits we like to stack include:
- Starting off the day listening to a positive morning podcast
- Thinking of ten things we’re grateful for or writing them down
- Putting aromatherapy oils in a diffuser
- Doing a daily workout at the same time each day
- Planning the next day’s adventures together at night
Approach your drive days with a plan
Depending on the size of your rig and how far you plan to drive, days spent driving can be stressful if you don’t establish good routines.
You probably already have steps and systems for packing up your RV, dumping your tanks, unhooking water lines, bringing in slides and so forth. The same methodology can be applied to how you take care your health on road travel days. Nutrition, stress and movement all affect brain function, which is so important when you’re driving or towing a heavy RV on a highway.
One thing we’ve found helpful is to not overdo liquids. Sugary drinks and energy drinks can cause blood sugar to spike and crash, making you feel more tired and less alert, so we don’t recommend these options. Stick to teas and herbal teas, black coffee and sparkling water as your best bets. And spending a little time the night before prepping healthy snacks and meals can make it easy to grab a healthy bite quickly on driving days.
Eat in season
For each season of the year, there are certain fruits and veggies that grow and get harvested. Eating foods when they’re in season guarantees you’re maximizing the nutrients in your food, since you know they’ve been picked fresh. It is also a more naturally cyclical pattern like the ones our ancestors used to have.
A great resource for knowing which foods are in season based on your location is Seasonal Food Guide. Eating in-season produce can also help you get a wider diversity of food in your diet, which can massively help the way our immune and hormone systems work, potentially leading to less sickness and better physical health. Also, there’s just nothing like finding a totally new and delicious plant to try at a local farmer’s market––consider it an adventure.
Take a walk after meals
One of the best ways to use food as a springboard to optimal health on the road is to take a 5-10 minute walk after you eat. As the food you eat gets broken down, it gets converted into blood sugar for use or storage within the body. When you take a walk after eating, your blood sugar is more easily converted into muscle glycogen, helping rebuild your body after a workout or outdoor activity. So step outside and take a quick and easy walk after meals, and you may find yourself getting less tired or foggy-headed after eating. (You may also find your walks naturally get a little longer because it’s just so nice to be outside. Bonus.)
Focus on feeling good
Feeling good rarely leads you astray when it comes to your health on the road, especially as adults. Kids may “feel good” eating processed food and candy for meals, but as adults, we know that what we eat and what we do have a direct impact on how we feel.
So in addition to eating lots of plants and whole foods, brainstorm some things that make you feel good, mentally, physically and emotionally. (Even spiritually.)
For instance, you might:
- Call a friend once a week to check in and stay feeling connected
- Listen to audiobooks to learn something new
- Get a little sun every day to boost your vitamin D levels
- Take lots of deep breaths outside in nature to raise your oxygen levels
- Wiggle your bare toes in the grass to be mindful and happy
- Take time every day to laugh, releasing endorphins
- Spend less time reading social media to reduce anxiety
- Go to bed a little earlier to get more sleep
After all, wellness and health on the road aren’t just about what you eat or how you exercise. They’re about enjoying the life you live, while you’re living it. So eat well, drink more water, and always look for little ways to enjoy your life just a little bit more. Happy travels!
The Bayleys RV in their 2018 Heartland Road Warrior Toy Hauler.
This story first appeared on Thor Industries.