Staying Fit in Florence (and still enjoying the carbs)

Studying abroad in Florence is guaranteed to be one of the greatest experiences of your life.  The friends you meet and the memories you make will last a lifetime.  The only thing you won’t want to last is that extra weight you’re about to gain.  It happens to all of us at some point while here, so today let’s talk about the top five ways to stay fit in Florence!


  1.  Run

Florence is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.  What better way to see all it has to offer then by running through the city and exploring?  Running is my number one way to stay fit in Florence because it’s free and anyone can do it!  With a pair of shoes and some willpower you will be sure to keep yourself in shape throughout the semester.  For a beautiful view and a stellar workout I would suggest trying to run all the way up to Piazza Michelangelo.  If the stairs don’t stop you in your tracks, the view at the top will.  It will definitely make running seem like less of a chore.


  1. Gym

Weight training is one of the most effective ways to change your body composition; however, more often than not you will have to pay for it.  This is why it is my second most effective way to stay fit while abroad. Florence is a small city, but there are still plenty of gyms here that offer everything you need to keep in shape.  To name a few, Palestra Swan, Klab de Conti, and Palestra Ricciardi.  If you’re going to be in town for over a month I would definitely suggest looking into a gym membership to keep fit.


  1.   Control your alcohol consumption

Although it is custom here to have a glass of wine with dinner, most students studying abroad tend to drink a bit more than a glass a night.  In fact most times it’s a bottle rather than a glass.  We’re all young and here to have a good time; however, alcohol is most likely your biggest intake of empty calories while abroad.  Consuming alcohol serves no purpose in your body’s ability to function healthily.  If you’re going out every night and pounding beers and mixed drinks don’t be surprised when the scale tips right.  Drink more water during the day, or alternate your drinks at night.  If you can be mindful of how much you’re drinking and keep it to a reasonable amount you will not only feel better but you’ll keep off some extra pounds.


  1.  Eating Habits

Ok, so even I’m guilty of over indulging here in Italy.  I’ll admit, I’ve had days where I’ve eaten enough pizza and pasta to feed a family of six.  However, if you are careful about what and how much you eat you will have no problem staying fit.  So what should you be eating here?  Your best bet is always fresh food.  If it’s natural and not from a box, chances are it’s (relatively) good for you.  What you want to stray away from is constantly eating pasta and bread.  While both are part of Italy’s staple meals, eating a lot of these two will supply you with an excess amount of complex carbohydrates.  When not used for energy during the day, these will be converted to fat and stored.  The last big food concern here is gelato, one of Florence’s greatest gifts to us.  Each bite is better than the last, but it’s full of sugar, fat, and empty calories so be sure to enjoy it in moderation.


  1. Sleep

Last, but certainly not least on my list of ways to stay fit in Florence is sleep!  You know, that thing you don’t get anymore?  Sleep is essential not only to sustain life but for staying fit.  It obviously provides energy for the next day, but it also helps to regulate your metabolism and protein synthesis.  Let’s put it this way, you could be the world’s most dedicated weight lifter or runner but if you don’t give yourself enough rest and sleep, your hard work will never see the light of day.  So for the sake of your health and well-being be sure to make time to get a good night’s sleep (at least 8 hours) as often as you can.  
If you can manage to use any combination of these five suggestions while in Florence I’m sure you’ll have no problem keeping yourself in tip-top shape. The bottom line with staying fit here is that it’s up to you to do it.  Nobody will force you to get a good night’s sleep, go to the gym, or eat healthy, so only you can ensure your fitness.  Studying abroad is a time to relax and enjoy life so never fret over a meal or night out.  Just do as your Mom always says and, “make good decisions.”

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