8 Tips for Staying Fit and Healthy on Your Move

Whether you are moving across town, one state over, or all the way across the country, moving is stressful and can wreck havoc on a healthy lifestyle. When we prepared for our move from Valparaiso, IN to the Seattle suburbs, I was determined to maintain my running and healthy eating as normally as I could. I knew that taking extra steps to stay fit and healthy during a move would help me feel my best, both physically and emotionally, keep my energy levels strong, and make for a smoother transition to normal healthy living in our new place.

That said, running and eating healthy are not the easiest when you are moving! Packing up an entire apartment or house and driving for many hours (or days, in our case) to a new city is laborious and tiring. Staying in hotels, not cooking at home, and being on the road for several hours are not always conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Here are 8 tips for staying fit and healthy on your move based on what I did during the time we spent moving from Valparaiso to Bothell.

 Staying Fit and Healthy On Your Move | This Runner's Recipes


Before the Move/Packing Stage:

  • Morning workouts keep you energized and destressed.

I’m a morning runner, so getting my workouts in first thing was not a big shift in my routine. However, even if I was normally an evening runner, I would have run in the mornings during the week we spent packing. Packing up an apartment or house is exhausting, both mentally and physically, and time-consuming. When the evening rolled around, I was too tired to do much else other than cook and sleep. By getting my runs done before breakfast, I not only had my workout done and didn’t need to worry about being too fatigued for it later, but I also had an extra boost of energy from the endorphins. Running in the morning helped me destress as well; I would be less anxious about my lengthy to-do list after I got back from a good sweat and some fresh air.

  • Keep a few pots and pans unpacked for cooking.

We ate out more than usual when we were preparing to move out of Valparaiso because we wanted to enjoy our favorite restaurants one last time. However, by keeping a few pots and pans out when the rest of the kitchen supplies were packed into boxes, we were able to avoid the trap of eating out every night. Meal planning also helped us eat at home without buying excess food and wasting.


During the Move/Traveling:

  • Be flexible about when you work out.

While morning runs were optimal during the packing stage, they were not the best option when we were on the road. Our drive from St. Louis (where we stayed for a few days to visit my parents) to Seattle involved 8-15 hours of driving each day. We got on the road early, and I wanted to get as much sleep as possible the night before to be alert for such a long drive. So instead of waking up extra early to run, I would exercise in the afternoons in the hotel gyms. Being flexible in your schedule allows you to squeeze in a workout around the demands of your move.

Treadmill workout in hotel gym.
Treadmill workout in hotel gym
  • Pack items for different types of weather.

I also made sure to pack several small items that would make workout out easier and more comfortable during the trip. I packed shoes, my Garmin and charger, and running clothes. But Additionally, I packed items that I might not need but would make the difference between running and skipping a workout. For example, I packed a baseball cap and my running rain jacket just in case it rained when I wanted to run. Sure enough, it rained in St. Louis! I also packed plenty of sports bras, socks, and running clothes so I wouldn’t have excuses during the trip or once I arrived in Seattle.

  • Be a creature of habit when it comes to food.

Traveling and eating out for several days can make it tempting to indulge at every meal. Ryan and I decided that dinner would be the meal where we would go out, have a beer, and enjoy local food. For breakfast and lunch, we chose healthier options that we could get anywhere. I ate oatmeal with fruit and an hardboiled egg each morning at our hotels and a turkey sandwich with tons of vegetables on whole grain bread every day for lunch (Jimmy Johns is everywhere, which makes this easy to get). By eating the same breakfast and lunch on our trip, we could remove the guesswork of healthy things to order and not be tempted by treats or heavier foods.

Staying Fit and Healthy On Your Move | This Runner's Recipes
Eating healthy at hotel breakfasts


For When You Arrive:

  • Pack dishes in your bags.

Those same pots and pans you kept unpacked for cooking at home? Pack them in your luggage so you have them when you arrive! We knew the movers would not be at our new apartment when we arrived there, so I packed a few essential pieces of cookware,  so that we could cook at home as soon as we arrived in Seattle. What I packed did not take up much room: roasting pan that double as a skillet, a pot, a knife, a mixing bowl, a small spatula, plates, bowls, and utensils. After days of eating out, it felt so rejuvenating and healthy to eat home cooked meals. Even if you are using a U-Haul or just your car to move, pack your dishes and pans where you can easily access them without having to dig through taped-up boxes.

  • Map out your routes ahead of time.

When I found out the address of our apartment, I began to research running routes in the area. Strava has a global heatmap that lets you see popular routes in areas; Traillink.com is another great resource for finding trails, both paved (for road running) and more rugged (for trail running); and MapMyRun allows you to plot out the distance of your running course. If you can, drive out to the trail and explore a bit of it before you head out on a run; that way, you don’t have to worry about where to park or getting lost when you set out to run – this is especially beneficial if you run before work and are on a time schedule.


Most of all:

  • Be easy on yourself.

Moving imposes a lot of stress on you, both mentally and physically. Exercise should be a form of stress relief, rather than an additional stressor. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a workout, only run four miles instead of your usual eight, or eat a couple richer meals. Something is always better than nothing, and even if you skip your workouts, the period of moving is a brief exception to an overall healthy lifestyle. Be easy on yourself, knowing that once you arrive at your new place, you can resume your healthy eating and exercise routine.

 [Tweet “Balancing fitness with a big move? Check out these 8 tips for staying fit and healthy on your move from @thisrunrecipes #fitfluential #fitfam #runchat”]

Questions of the Day:
What tips do you have for staying fit and healthy during a move?
How do you find routes in a new area when you’re traveling?


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6 Responses

  1. Great tips! Whenever we got away I like to buy my own breakfast and lunch food rather than eating out. And I love running in new places! Sometimes I’ll look at google maps to see where there are nearby areas to run, or when all else fails, go to the hotel gym.

  2. Sounds like you did a great job of staying active during the move! I think that it helps too that you had to take the pup for walks. When you are doing the long haul moves, I would say it is almost easier to stay active–you just know that it is going to take a while, so you plan for it. Alex and I did our drive in 2 days, so it didn’t really affect us that much. And I love the idea of keeping pans handy!

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