Staying Fit: The Digital Nomad Lifestyle

Transitioning into and being a Digital Nomad presents many new challenges for professionals. Some may be old challenges, while others are new and unique to the DN lifestyle. Fitness & wellness sort of fits into both of those categories. In today’s world, finding time for yourself is a struggle for many. Add onto that the perpetual element of change in the DN lifestyle, and not only in location, and the fitness & wellness challenge can be elevated to new heights. However, staying fit, or even getting fit, is absolutely possible for DNs. I, like many professional DNs, do it, and all DNs can.

Mind–Body Connection: Mindset is Everything.

The first dimension to fitness & wellness is getting your mind and your body on the same page. This is fundamental regardless of your situation. However, being a DN involves unique elements to mastering this physiological calculus. The most important concept that must be understood and truly lived is that being a DN is not being on permanent holiday.

The ‘I’m traveling / on vacation’ mindset is both counterproductive and detrimental for DN professionals. When adding location independence to your skillset, the understanding that you are still a working professional remains. Being a DN is being a professional who has mastered or mastering the skill of location independence.

Don’t adjust your thinking to be consistent with a reality that doesn’t exist.

Fitting fitness & wellness into your life should be approached the same way as a DN as it was in your former professional life. The only significant difference is that you may have a less regular routine from time-to-time. But that is not always a negative thing. That change can be a very productive element in your training.

Recovery time is absolutely crucial and necessary for achieving fitness milestones. As a DN, utilize your travel periods as your recovery periods. Maximizing every hour and every day, and for as many different aspects of your life as possible, is an elementary skill of being a successful DN. Leverage the necessary realities of being a DN to fully engage every aspect of your life. Don’t view or use them as excuses, but opportunities.

Work-Life balance is the cornerstone to being a successful DN.

Always be conscious of the fact that just as your daily life has professional responsibilities, it also has personal ones. A core element of that formula is your mind-body connection. Maintaining an effective fitness & wellness routine will directly contribute to your success.

Keep it Basic

A full-service state-of-the-art gym or fitness center is not an absolute requirement to stay in shape. Likewise, if you are like me, and do rely on such a place as the keystone of your fitness lifestyle, being without one on occasion is disruptive, but not terminal.

There are a plethora of options and possibilities throughout the world that will work in the short term when a gym or fitness center is not accessible. Forget the taxi, tram, or bus and consider walking, running, or even bike rentals to get where you need to go. Especially in Europe, cities are designed to support those types of activities in place of public transportation.

Walking is actually one of the best forms of exercise you can do, and you can do it literally everywhere. Walking has proven results for many fitness & wellness concerns, such as maintaining or losing weight, sustaining your fitness levels and gains, cardiac health, blood pressure, and even cholesterol.

Being a DN means staying healthy, not just staying employed.

The last place you want to be is in a circa-1920 emergency room of a state-run hospital in an under-developed nation. Staying fit is not only about maintaining muscle mass.

Walking also provides some significant mental health benefits including alleviating depression. As a DN, this can be significant at times. Isolation and loneliness are typical in the DN world and affect you both personally as well as professionally. Stanford University found that for more than half the people they studied, walking nurtured creativity by fueling “divergent thinking”. This can then fuel mood change and so on.

Successful thinking is the crucible of successful living.

Many cities, especially in Europe, have been moving their urban development planning into the direction of sustainability for the population and not solely the business sector. One of the ways this is manifesting itself is in the growing importance urban green space has had over the past decade or so. That green space has been developed as an escape from the surrounding urbanization and a means to disconnect from it. But also, to re-connect with yourself. Many destinations offer, within this green space, small oases of wellness which are an excellent resource for DNs.

One of the many fitness stations, alongside the Vardar river, in City Park of Skopje, North Macedonia.

While not full-service equipped gyms, they are free, widely available in most destinations, and allow you to fulfill your fitness needs while simultaneously enriching yourself with the natural sustenance of each destination your live in.

Gyms & Fitness Centers

While you don’t necessarily need a gym or fitness center, they are an incredible asset. Most quality hotels offer some option, though not typically as well equipped as some independent fitness businesses are. Although, I have been very surprised over the years at what some of the Marriott hotels I stayed at have to offer (such as the Marriott gym pictured). In fact, in Europe, quite a few of them offer well-equipped gyms and even use them as an additional revenue source by offering memberships to locals.

Gyms and fitness centers are the equivalents of co-working spaces for the personal side of DN living.

Remember, every aspect of being a successful DN, including your work-life balance is founded upon solid planning. Staying fit as a DN should be addressed in two stages. While planning and scheduling, address fitness from a goal-oriented mentality. In your daily life, it should be lived with a task-oriented approach.

Wellness is More than Exercise

Finally, one of the most important elements of wellness for a DN to remember is it encapsulates much more than physical exercise. Wellness involves nutrition and nutrition in multiple dimensions. A DN, by nature, we are individuals who thrive to explore, experience, and engage the world. This means that a DNs appetite possesses intellectual, spiritual, social, environmental, and emotional elements as well as professional, personal, and physical ones. Wellness requires balanced nutrition for the totality of the fuel your being thrives upon.

If you don’t succeed personally, you won’t succeed professionally as a DN.

Take Away

Being a DN is not an excuse to eliminate fitness & wellness from your life. In fact, it is a reason to include it. When change is a constant element of your life, the best way to counter it is with some valuable and proactive stability. For a DN, fitness & wellness can be just that. The DN lifestyle is founded upon perpetual states of change.

However, successful DNs know how to normalize that change within their lives by adding the correct elements of stability. Being a DN is about understanding the fact that everything you do must be an investment into yourself. Fitness & wellness epitomize that type of investment.  

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