Staying Strong Abroad

When relocating abroad, there’s much that changes in your work and home life. Anticipating, learning, preparing, accomplishing, adjusting, and assimilating are some of the positive action stages of a move. Each of these stages – which often overlap – require energy and focus. These phases can also involve anxiety, resistance, trepidation, isolation, frustration, and stress – states that drain energy and cloud focus. Your well-being depends on balancing these elements to a healthy degree.

Even when you are home, in familiar surroundings, exercise can help relieve burdensome emotional states. When you move to a new, unfamiliar place, exercise can be even more important.

Some people are gratified to find they can keep their fitness routines while abroad. Running, gym workouts, yoga, and other mainstream activities can be enjoyed almost anywhere. Activities requiring more specific equipment and spaces – like swimming pools, squash courts, horseback riding trails, and even golf courses and soccer fields – are not available everywhere.

Therefore, many newcomers face a choice: Do you continue (if possible) with a tried-and-true routine? One benefit of doing so is the connection and consistency it brings from your previous lifestyle to your host country. Your workout is familiar, and so serves the dual purpose of physical fitness and engaging in an activity that – unlike other aspects of your new life – does not require a major shift or learning curve. That can make it a source of relaxation and peace.

On the other hand, learning something new brings at least two benefits, too: A different area (or areas) of your body is developed and strengthened by a sport you’ve never tried before. A new activity may also assist with your assimilation, helping you meet new people and make a personal, physical connection with your new home.

For example, someone from landlocked Hungary may revel in ocean sailing or surfing if relocation brings him/her to a coastal city. A native of Kuwait on assignment in Canada may discover the joys of cross-country skiing. In neither instance would these activities be possible at home.

And there are some interesting sports to be tried. Did you know that Quidditch, the game from the popular Harry Potterbooks, is played around the world? Yes, there is an International Quidditch Association established in Middlebury, Vermont and with leagues in 26 countries – including Argentina, Canada, Korea, Spain, and Uganda.

Trying something new can also help you learn about yourself, too. A lifelong runner and biker, I recently took up Pilates and barre classes, and found that certain aches and weak points were not unavoidable aspects of aging but were rather the result of too little attention to certain muscles and joints.  Feeling stronger – in both body and mind – is a worthwhile goal no matter where you live.

Written by Ellen Harris, GMS, Product Manager, Content Group