Jet lag and performance

Exercise, travel and jet lag

"What? You are going to work out while you are on holiday? "

This is something I hear without fail when informing people of my intention to work out while taking a break. My answer to the horrified inquisitor is that I actually enjoy working out so getting in a few sessions on holiday is even better than doing it at home.

Having said that, working out successfully isn't that simple. We all know that exercise and progress is all about consistency. Maintaining a routine can be difficult due to a variety of factors.

Travelers involved in international business, athletes and holiday makers frequency travel long distances. Changes in culture and customs, local diseases, weather, temperature, and altitude can cause extreme physical distress and ruin a trip.

This short guide to workout out while traveling should provide you with some solid solutions to the difficulty you might face whilst traveling and training.

Before the flight

Gradually shift your sleeping patterns to better accommodate the new location.

The simple version is to go to bed slightly later if you’re flying west, or earlier if you’re flying east.

Jet lag rooster is free service that will give you your ideal sleeping pattern pre and post trip.

The flight

Consider a stopover

If time permits consider a stopover. Stopping at another location mid-distance will help you adjust to the end time zone. You can also take advantage by visiting a new city.

Set watch

When you embark the plane immediately set your watch for the time zone of the new location.

Surprisingly, mental preparation is just as important as physical preparation.

Walking in the aisles and just keeping active helps to minimize the fatigue accompanying long trips. At the end of the trip, taking a shower and getting a good night sleep significantly returns the physiological systems to normal. Unfortunately, these measure are not enough during long trips that cross multiple time zones.

Jet lag

Jet lag is characterized by fatigue and disorientation caused by biological rhythms being similar to those of the point of departure following a trip across many time zones.

Symptoms include fatigue and general tiredness, inability to sleep at night, loss of concentration, loss of drive, headaches, and general malaise.

Changes in the time of sunrise and sunset (light and darkness) soon disrupt these rhythms. Changes in body temperature during the day are slow to accommodate to the new time zone, and more than likely trigger problems with sleep for several days.

Exercise performance usually suffers for a minimum of two days after arrival in the new time zone. Factors affecting the severity of jet lag include the number of time zones crossed. and the temperature of the new environment. The severity of symptoms may be worse 2 to 3 days after arrival than on the first day in the new time zone. Symptoms then gradually decrease.

The direction of travel affects the severity of jet lag. Flying westward is less stressful-than flying eastward.

When time zone shifts approach 12 hours, little difference exists between traveling east and west.

Physical performance also decreases more traveling eastward than westward. Changing exercise times to more closely resemble the new time zone prior to the
trip helps relieve symptoms. Younger and more physically active people have fewer problems with jet lag than older or less fit individuals.

During the flight, drink plenty of fluids without caffeine and alcohol because they promote dehydration. Some research suggests that eating meals high in carbohydrates and low in protein before sleep induces drowsiness.

Carbohydrates increase serotonin production, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate sleep. Upon waking, people should consume a breakfast that contains caffeine and low—carbohydrate high-protein foods to increase arousal and prevent sleepiness.

If a person tries to sleep when they are drowsy, this will slow the adjustment to the new times zone and reaffirms the rhythms of the former time zone.

When going from east to west, individuals should try to sleep after arrival, and the opposite when traveling west to east. Individuals should exercise lightly after arrival to help to “reset” the body’s biological rhythm.

Exercise speeds up the adaptation to a new time zone.

Avoid all—out effort in the new time zone following the first few days after increase the risk of injury.

Drinking alcohol at night disrupts sleep and prevents adaptation to the new time zone. Consuming high carbohydrate foods at the dinner meal helps to promote higher quality sleep.

Maintain a high fiber intake to prevent constipation.