One of the biggest frustrations when it comes to travelling is jet lag. After finally arriving in your destination of choice, you’re excited and ready to get exploring, but your body clock seems to have other plans.
1. What is jetlag and why do we get it?
Jetlag occurs when flying east or west across three or more time zones, and is a disruption of the body’s circadian rhythm frequently causing symptoms such as sleep disruption, daytime drowsiness, impaired mental or physical performance, general malaise, and gastrointestinal issues. Jet lag can persist for anything from just a few days to a few weeks, although it is usually worse when traveling east and when a greater number of time zones are crossed, confusing your body’s internal clock.
Science has clearly shown that regular exercise dramatically increases the speed at which our bodies adjust to a new time zone. So, next time jet lag is getting to you after your flight, choose a time that suits you each day, and get exercising!Florent Rivault, Wellbeing Manager at Aspria Royal La Rasante,
2. How to get rid of jetlag
Your body will eventually adjust to the time zone of your new destination, however in order to be able to make the most of your trip, it is helpful to do everything you can to reduce your jetlag symptoms. For example, managing your sleeping schedule so that you sleep when it’s most appropriate to your new destination, staying hydrated, increasing your light exposure by getting outside in the sunshine/daylight as much as possible, ensuring you have a comfortable sleeping space, and if necessary (carefully) using caffeine, melatonin or medications to minimise the symptoms. These are all tricks which can help you to reduce your jetlag or minimise the effect it has on you, but in recent years several studies have highlighted the importance of one very simple way – exercise.
3. The importance of exercise
Science has shown that regular exercise can be a healthy and relatively easy way to get rid of jetlag. A study done in 2012 by researchers at the University of Kentucky, USA, looked at how exercise can be a time cue (or ‘zeitgeber’) for your body, letting you know what time it is and synchronising your internal clock. The study used mice who were made to exercise at a specific time for two hours every day, and after four weeks the scientists found that this was effective in realigning their body clocks, or circadian rhythms, regardless of it being light or dark. A similar study published by researchers in Japan in 2008 showed that mice who exercised at the same time each day were able to adjust to an eight-hour time zone difference more quickly. This was then tested on humans by the same researchers in 2010 and again showed that scheduled exercise helped them to adjust quicker. A 1987 experiment at the University of Toronto using hamsters also gave similar results.
4. What science tells us
Although the specifics are yet to be proven (for example what time of day is best to exercise, or if this is different depending on whether someone has flown east or west), science has clearly shown that regular exercise dramatically increases the speed at which our bodies adjust to a new time zone. So, next time jet lag is getting to you after your flight, choose a time that suits you each day, and get exercising! Whether it’s a short run, a yoga or fitness session, a swim in a pool, find something that suits you and fit it into your schedule. Follow your chosen routine each day, and let science get to work. This way you can give your body as much help as possible in adapting to your new timezone, giving you the opportunity to get back to your best and ready to enjoy your travels to the fullest!