Frequent travelers have their share of secrets for making life on the road more bearable. From knowing the best way to keep clothes from wrinkling in a suitcase to a sixth sense about which security line will move fastest, seasoned road warriors have a million hacks that make travel a breeze.
However, everyone from the occasional business trippers to hardcore nomads are guilty of skipping workouts while they are on the road. After all, our normal routines, including our regularly scheduled workouts, are often the first casualty of trip planning when we travel.
But it is arguably even more important to get in your exercise while on the road than it is at home. Business travelers need the stress relief exercise provides to help them navigate a busy work schedule. Holidaymakers know exercise is an important part of battling the bulge that often sneaks up on you between trips to the resort’s buffet table.
So, whether you travel for business or pleasure, consider these tips to help stay fit while far away from home.
It starts with packing right
A pair of sneakers, tennis shoes or cross trainers are the minimum requirement for helping maintain your fitness regime. Add a jump rope and resistance bands and you have all the tools you need for a workout that combines cardio and muscle conditioning. In fact, resistance bands are so space-efficient that they can be rolled up and stuffed in your workout shoes during packing. Bands come in a variety of tensions to work different muscle groups, so bringing multiple bands is a good idea.
Sometimes it’s as simple as putting one foot in front of the other
Whether you go by plane, train or car, traveling usually means long periods of sitting. Strap on those cross trainers you packed and use them to walk whenever and wherever it’s practical. If your flight is delayed, take the time to stroll around the terminal. If you’re driving, do a couple of laps around the parking lot at the rest stop.
Investing in a wearable activity tracker or pedometer can help keep you walking when on the road. Setting a realistic goal for your number of daily steps helps encourage you to squeeze walking into travel downtime.
Work with your jet lag
For many people, changing time zones deals a major blow to their quality of sleep. Instead of spending hours tossing and turning in bed while trying to get your body used to local time, channel your restlessness into a quick workout. It won’t necessarily cure your jetlag, but it will be a more efficient use of your time than fitfully counting sheep.
Take it outside
Let’s face it, many hotel gyms leave something to be desired, and working out in your room can get downright boring. Fortunately, cities around the globe have fitness trails, also known as parcourses. These outdoor paths are often located in parks or promenades and are equipped with fitness stations that include everything from chin-up bars to balance beams. A brisk walk along a parcourse will not only help keep you in shape, but also provide a great way to explore a new city. Bring your jump rope and resistance bands and get creative on the fitness trail by adding some exercises of your own.
Music and motivation
Need to boost your motivation to workout? Don’t underestimate the power of music. “Make a play list of your favorite tunes and let the music move you through your workout,” says Grace DeSimone, National Group Fitness Director for Optum On-Site services. Not a music buff? DeSimone points out that audio books can have the same benefit for individuals who may not be musically inclined.
Got 15 minutes?
Because travelers are often tight on both time and space, they need an effective workout routine they can do anywhere. Try picking five exercises and then simply doing each exercise for a minute. Repeat each exercise three times and add a warm up and a post workout stretch and you’re good to go.
You are what you eat
The grab and go meals people tend to eat while on the road can be convenient, but they are rarely healthy. Packed with sugar, salt and fat, the snack you buy at the airport terminal or roadside convenience store provides quick calories, but will leave you in no mood to exercise once the sugar high subsides.
Eating balanced meals while traveling is a challenge, but a good rule of thumb is to never eat two bad meals in a row. Follow up that stop at the donut cart on the main concourse with a real meal that includes veggies and protein. You’ll be much more likely to feel like working out afterwards.
Do the best you can
Staying fit while traveling will always be a challenge, so don’t beat yourself up if you miss a workout. Even a little activity is better than none, so celebrate the little victories. Once you’re home and back to your regular workout routine you’ll be thankful you carved out even a little time to stay active when you were on the road.