The Challenge of Being Fit While Working Abroad

After giving you a glimpse of what we OFWs are stuffing ourselves while working here in the Gulf, the same blog about Arabic foods also answers your questions why we gain weight and grow our own built-in float around our belly while we are here.


Aside from the abundance of food and our lack of discipline, the work environment is also partly to be blamed for what we have become. With everything automated, we stay in our offices sitting behind our desks most of the time. Inter-office transactions are done thru emails, phone calls and even office communication system (OCS).


Climate also affects our activities. While it is very humid back home it still allows for a lot of walking and commuting.  But here in Middle East, it is very hot and dry. No one dares to go out and walk under the scorching heat of the sun.


Work amenities, such as transportation services to and from work, if you are living in the housing compound, saves us from flexing our legs muscles. Or we have cars or transportation service that drop us right at the doors of our offices (kumbaga door to door).


But be that as it may, we bread winners, should not neglect our health. Bawal tayo magkasakit.


So for our wellness, let us go thru the ways to keep our bodies up and running.


Use the Compound Amenities



I am so jealous with the expats who live or work in a compound with complete amenities such as swimming pool, gym and sports area and sauna bath.


During those times, when boredom and homesickness strikes, consider yourself lucky if you are one of those who have amenities that will keep yourself fit and healthy.


Regular physical activities like playing basketball, tennis, football and other sports activities or exercise can improve our health and reduce the risk of developing several diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. It can have immediate and long-term health benefits and most importantly, it can improve your quality of life (social life).


Include swimming and sauna bathing in your routine. Swimming is healthy and a low-impact workout that has several mental and bodily health benefits. Also, it builds endurance, muscle strength, and cardiovascular fitness. While Saunas have been used for thousands of years and are still popular today. A sauna can help people to unwind and relax, and may have other health benefits although it may not be suitable for everyone.


Build your Own Gym


Photo Credit: Physical Culturist


If you are not living in a compound but have enough space and resources then invest in building you own gym at home. It’s more comfortable because you don’t need to leave the house to do your workout. And more importantly, it is hygienic.


They don’t have to be new equipment. There are some  pre-loved equipment that you may acquire (by buying online like in or facebook group/page) or hands me down from a generous friend J.


Get a Workout Buddy



Having a support will make you more accountable to your fitness goals. There will be challenges and temptations to quit along the way. Let your family be informed and involved in your program.


Try to have a workout buddy such as your family member, a relative or a close friend. He will serve as motivator in achieving your body goal and maintaining healthy lifestyle.


Jog, Brisk Walk or Walk



Jogging is a form of trotting or running at a slow or leisurely pace. The main intention is to increase physical fitness with less stress on the body than from faster running but more than walking, or to maintain a steady speed for longer periods of time. Performed over long distances, it is a form of aerobic endurance training. Endurance training is the act of exercising to increase endurance.


Brisk walking is not strolling or even walking at a moderate pace. It’s walking faster than both but not as fast as a full run. There are many benefits to brisk walking. Walking and running both help reduce your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.


If you’re in Riyadh, the surrounding areas of the following are the places to do these activities:


  1. King Fahad Medical City
  2. King Fahad National Library
  3. Prince Sultan University


Last Eid holiday, my husband and I decided to jog and walk at King Fahad Medical City in Riyadh for two to three lapses. They said it is around three kilometers for one round.  What I like about this place, I believe, is that it is safe because there are also joggers, walkers and police roaming in the area. There’s also a weighing scale that you can use before or after round/s. It is a good motivation knowing that you are losing extra fats.


I am working inside a compound and I come early (too early, early as 6 AM and my work will start at 8:00AM). I took it as opportunity to exercise. Every working days I see to it that I walk every morning for at least 30 minutes except when there is sandstorm or the weather is freezing cold. If your workplace is in a hospital, in a building or in a compound why not try to walk as well. It’s good for the heart and for our overall well-being.


Watch and Follow Workout Tutorial


Thanks to the internet and social media, it is now easy to search for the best program or medium to be healthy.


There are several free tutorials you can find in Youtube. This include workout, dancing, yoga, pilates a lot more that fits your preference.


Watch Your Diet



In nutrition, diet is the sum of food consumed by our body. The word diet often implies the use of specific intake of nutrition for health or weight-management reasons (with the two often being related).


As we try to be fit and healthy, we should watch our food intake. We can still savor the foods that we like without sacrificing our comfort foods. We just need to take them in moderation, least we crave, and whack all the exercises we’ve done. Avoid processed foods and too much sweets. Go for the healthy choices.


Better to seek a Dietician advise too, for the best wellness program that fits you.


Join a Fitness Center


Photo Credit: anschutz health and wellness center


Like having a workout buddy, being a member of a fitness center is a good motivation, too. They have programs or workout plans that can be designed for one’s individual fitness goal.


If the membership cost is a motivation for you to show up, then by all means join a fitness center.


Have a Yearly Check-up



With the government requirement of enrolling employees in health insurance companies, avail the benefit. See your doctor for your routine check-ups such as blood sugar, liver profile and cholesterol check and the likes. You owe it to your body and to your family.


It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver – Mahatma Gandi.


Bawal tayo magkasakit.


Source:Livestrong, Wikipedia




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