How Does Exercise Influence Jet Lag?
Does exercise plays a role in treating jet lag? In this article we'll share a few tips that will help you prevent jet lag from affecting your performance.
You’ve probably experienced jet lag after taking a long flight. The symptoms include headaches, stomach aches, nausea, general malaise, and sleep disturbances.
So, what can you do to prevent it from affecting your performance? Read along to find out more.
What is jet lag?
First of all, it’s important to be clear about what jet lag is and how it occurs. Also known as jet lag syndrome, it refers to the conflict that occurs between your internal biological clock and the time of the environment in which you’re currently in.
In order to understand the concept, you must first understand that each person has a biological clock which is also known as a circadian clock. The circadian clock is responsible for regulating periods of sleep and wakefulness. The cycle adapts to your environment and it helps you to perform all of your daily routines.
However, the moment you travel to other places in the world with different time zones, this clock is altered. This is when the syndrome occurs.
It’s not necessary to treat jet lag every time since its symptoms often begin to dissipate a few days after arrival. The disappearance of symptoms is due to the body’s adaptation process. In other words, your body will slowly adapt to the new city you are in.
On some occasions, however, it’s important to treat the symptoms. This is especially relevant if you’re an athlete and need to adapt quickly before a competition.
Jet lag doesn’t only occur during trips to distant places. It can also occur after working long night shifts. The longer the shifts, the more likely it is that the syndrome will appear.
Does exercise influence jet lag ?
There isn’t a lot of science-based information about the influence of physical exercise on this syndrome however, there are some recommendations about treating symptoms when traveling from east to west.
The scientific community has expressed that it’s currently impossible to confirm that exercise influences the treatment of jet lag. This position was stated in The Journal of Physiology. Therefore, more research is needed on the subject.
Despite this lack of evidence, many coaches have looked for ways to counteract the effects of jet lag. Some coaches recommend implementing exercises at times similar to those that the body is used to.
On the other hand, others recommend lowering the training intensity before and after going on a trip. This is because the body may not respond in the same way as it does under normal conditions.
Exercise and jet lag
Physical exercise can contribute positively to alleviating the symptoms of jet lag when performed under the supervision of a trained professional.
In order to prevent jet lag, carry out training routines at new times in order to adjust your circadian cycle. In other words, if the time change is four hours with respect to where you live, adjust your watch and, based on the new schedule, modify the time of your workouts.
This change is recommended for two or three days before the trip. Coaches recommend it in order for their athletes to adapt quickly.
In addition, it’s also recommended to travel in advance. The more difference there is in the time zone, the earlier the trip should be made. This will give your body more time to adjust before competing.
Treating jet lag: a matter of care
Beyond physical exercise, there are other alternatives to counteract the symptoms of jet lag. However, we advise you to pay attention to your body and consult with a professional before implementing any type of treatment.
If you’re traveling with a coach, try to keep them informed on your medical situation at all times. Your coach should know how to guide you on how to best adapt while traveling.
- Atkinson, G., Edwards, B., Reilly, T., & Waterhouse, J. (2007). Exercise as a synchroniser of human circadian rhythms: An update and discussion of the methodological problems. In European Journal of Applied Physiology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-006-0361-z
- Waterhouse, J., Reilly, T., Atkinson, G., & Edwards, B. (2007). Jet lag: trends and coping strategies. In Lancet. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60529-7