8 Secrets of Fit Business Travelers

8 Secrets of Fit Business Travelers

Got time to kill during a layover  Walk through the airport instead of resting in a lounge. (Getty Images)

Got time to kill during a layover Walk through the airport instead of resting in a lounge. (Getty Images)

It’s easy to fall off track when traveling for work. Not only must you break from a home routine that hopefully keeps you happy and healthy, but you’re also faced with work-related stressors, including long days of sitting in meetings, aches and pains from airline travel and different beds and, potentially, a battle with jet lag. But you don’t have to neglect your fitness even when traveling for business. Consider the following tips for staying fit on the road:

1. Embrace your surroundings.

Even if you’re “on the clock,” it’s important to find some time to explore and sightsee. This doesn’t have to be an epic walk through downtown Chicago or the hills of San Francisco – though that would certainly be great! Simply taking a walk in the neighborhood surrounding your hotel is enough to get your blood pumping and give you an opportunity to take in some of the local flavor.

2. Get outside.

If you have some downtime between sales calls, seek some adventure. Go kayaking. Find a local hiking trail and head out into the woods for a break from the modern world. Go swimming in the hotel pool. Rent a bicycle and go for an early morning ride before your first meeting. Or, if your family joined you, set aside time to take a long walk along the water’s edge looking for seashells with your kids or to swim in the ocean and try to catch some waves.

3. Plan movement opportunities each day.

It’s easy for business travelers to remain fairly sedentary for work and eat less-than-healthy foods while on the go or while networking in the evenings. If possible, choose a hotel with a nice fitness center that is open at the hours that best suit your schedule, and then schedule those workouts so they’re as prominent on your calendar as your other responsibilities. You can also perform bodyweight exercises or pack small exercise equipment – such as a yoga mat, resistance bands or suspension training system – that you can use in your hotel room. And don’t forget your running shoes and workout clothes.

4. Add movement in small ways.

Finding ways to incorporate some additional movement into an otherwise sedentary day is important. It may sound cliche, but taking the stairs in the hotel, conducting walking meetings, parking far from your destination and even walking in the airport during layovers can add much-needed movement to your time away.

5. Use a pedometer or fitness tracker.

Keeping tabs on your physical activity is a great way to ensure that you don’t fall completely off track while traveling. You don’t necessarily need to hit your usual targets, but watching your numbers and adding an evening activity is a great way to counterbalance a slow day. Don’t forget, however, that most of these devices are not waterproof, so be sure to remove them before diving in the hotel pool or hitting the beach.

6. Do something!

Doing something – even if it’s below your usual activity level – is always better than nothing. You may not get the same duration or intensity during your workouts when you’re traveling, but you can aim for weight and fitness maintenance during a business trip. Remember: It doesn’t take long for gains in strength or cardiorespiratory fitness to take a hit during a period of inactivity. By performing some activity while on the road, you may be able to avoid having to regain lost fitness when you get home.

 7. Stay hydrated.

This may seem obvious, but many people forget to stay hydrated while traveling – especially if they’re visiting a warmer, more humid environment than the one back home. Be sure to bring plenty of water if you’ll be sitting in meetings at a conference or in your car making calls. Staying properly hydrated is a key element of good health.

8. Have fun!

Traveling is a great opportunity to try new types of physical activity and to explore an environment that may be very different from your usual surroundings. If possible, hike in the mountains, go tubing in the river or swim in the ocean. At the very least, walk downtown in a big city and try the local cuisine. The possibilities are endless when you’re in a new place – so seize them!


By Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., Contributor

How Exercise Could Help You Learn a New Language

How Exercise Could Help You Learn a New Language

Learning a second language as an adult is difficult. But the process may be eased if you exercise while learning.

physed-cycling-masteA new study reports that working out during a language class amplifies people’s ability to memorize, retain and understand new vocabulary. The findings provide more evidence that to engage our minds, we should move our bodies.

In recent years, a wealth of studies in both animals and people have shown that we learn differently if we also exercise. Lab rodents given access to running wheels create and maintain memories better than animals that are sedentary, for instance. And students consistently perform better on academic tests if they participate in some kind of physical activity during the school day.

Many scientists suspect that exercise alters the biology of the brain in ways that make it more malleable and receptive to new information, a process that scientists refer to as plasticity.

But many questions have remained unanswered about movement and learning, including whether exercise is most beneficial before, during or after instruction and how much and what types of exercise might be best.

So for the new study, which was published recently in PLOS One, researchers in China and Italy decided to home in on language learning and the adult brain.

Language learning is interesting. As young children, almost all of us picked up our first language easily. We didn’t have to be formally taught; we simply absorbed words and concepts.

But by early adulthood, the brain generally begins to lose some of its innate language capability. It displays less plasticity in areas of the brain related to language. As a result, for most of us, it becomes harder to learn a second language after childhood.

To see what effects exercise might have on this process, the researchers first recruited 40 college-age Chinese men and women who were trying to learn English. The students had some facility with this second language but were far from proficient.

The researchers then divided the students into two groups. Those in one group would continue to learn English as they had before, primarily while seated in rote vocabulary-memorization sessions.

The others would supplement these sessions with exercise.

Specifically, the students would ride exercise bikes at a gentle pace (about 60 percent of their maximum aerobic capacity) beginning 20 minutes before the start of the lessons and continuing throughout the 15 minutes or so of instruction.

Both groups learned their new vocabulary by watching words projected onto large screens, together with comparable pictures, such as “apple” and a Red Delicious. They were shown 40 words per session, with the sequence repeated several times.

Afterward, the students all rested briefly and then completed a vocabulary quiz, using computer keys to note as quickly as possible whether a word was with its correct picture. They also responded to sentences using the new words, marking whether the sentences were accurate or, in the case of “The apple is a dentist,” nonsensical. Most linguists feel that understanding sentences shows greater mastery of a new language than does simple vocabulary improvement.

The students completed eight vocabulary sessions over the course of two months.

And at the end of each lesson, the students who had ridden bikes performed better on the subsequent vocabulary tests than did the students who sat still.

They also became more proficient at recognizing proper sentences than the sedentary students, although that difference did not emerge until after several weeks of instruction.

Perhaps most interesting, the gains in vocabulary and comprehension lingered longest for the cyclists. When the researchers asked the students to return to the lab for a final round of testing a month after the lessons — without practicing in the meantime — the cyclists remembered words and understood them in sentences more accurately than did the students who had not moved.

“The results suggest that physical activity during learning improves that learning,” says Simone Sulpizio, a professor of psychology and linguistics at the University Vita-Salute San Raffaele in Milan, Italy, and a study co-author.

These improvements extend beyond simply aiding in memorization, she added. The exercise also deepened language learners’ grasp of how to use their newly acquired words.

This study involved college students performing relatively light exercise, though, and cannot tell us whether other people completing other types of exercise would achieve the same results.

It also offers no clues about what is occurring inside the brain that might be contributing to the benefits of the exercise. But many past studies have shown that exercise prompts the release of multiple neurochemicals in the brain that increase the number of new brain cells and the connections between neurons, Dr. Sulpizio says. These effects improve the brain’s plasticity and augment the ability to lear

From a real-world standpoint, the study’s implications might seem at first to be impractical. Few classrooms are equipped with stationary bicycles. But specialized equipment is probably unnecessary, Dr. Sulpizio says.

“We are not suggesting that schools or teachers buy lots of bicycles,” she says. “A simpler take-home message may be that instruction should be flanked by physical activity. Sitting for hours and hours without moving is not the best way to learn.”


5 of the Most Deceptive Claims at the Grocery Store:

5 of the Most Deceptive Claims at the Grocery Store:

© Shutterstock Shopping cart in supermarket aisle

© Shutterstock Shopping cart in supermarket aisle

You may see “good for you assurances” on foods that aren’t, well, good for you. Here’s what to look out for.

I love going to the grocery store: I could spend hours walking the aisles, taking in the sights and smells, and checking out new products.

I’ve noticed, however, that my happy trips can take an awkward turn when I run into a fellow mom or one of my patients. They’ll often point to their cart, and silently nod for approval for all the healthy items they are bringing home. In too many carts, I see “good for you assurances” on foods that aren’t, well, good for you.

Here are top five offenders lurking in your grocery store:

1. The ‘made from’ or ‘made with’ label

All too often, the “made with” label is there to distract you so you fail to see what else is in the product.

Start with “whole grains,” for example. While it’s great that a product is made with whole grains, technically, you could be eating stripped grains with a little whole grain thrown in. Look for a “100 percent” label on your grain products.

2. The ‘only this many calories per serving’ label

When we start worrying about the quantity of calories, we stop caring about the quality. Although eating more calories than you need may contribute to weight gain, calorie amounts are not a testament to nutrient density.

Nuts have a lot of calories, yet they are one of the healthiest foods on earth.

Resist the urge to purchase a processed, artificial food for the lure of how many calories it contains. You’ll most likely be paying for it in the end by overindulging.

3. The ‘all natural’ assurance

Natural has not yet been defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In fact, the FDA has only accepted the use of the term to mean “nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food.”

The problem with this limited definition is that it does not contain information related to food processing or use of pesticides. Plus, there are plenty of natural products, like sugar, that don’t contribute to good health.

Until more detailed criteria are developed, don’t expect the “natural” claim to mean your food was just pulled from the ground or a tree.

4. Organic

A 2011 study from Cornell University compared two identical chocolate chip cookies. One was labeled as regular and the other as organic. Study participants showed a preference for the organic option based on taste and nutrient density — they thought the cookie must be lower in fat and calories. They were also willing to pay more for the organic option. Again, the two cookies were 100 percent identical.

This is attributing healthiness to a product, simply based on a label.

Going organic is often a great idea, but if you see the claim used to sell cookies, crackers and candy, don’t assume it’s a better version of its non-organic counterpart.

5. No high fructose corn syrup

A lack of high fructose corn syrup does not give a product a free pass. Bragging about a lack of high fructose corn syrup is a case of a manufacturer trying to persuade you that all the other sugars in the product shouldn’t be looked at with as much disdain. The item could still have an excess amount of other sugars, making you less satisfied, and more willing to eat and buy more.

We eat too much sugar to begin with, from all sources — about 130 pounds of it per year. That’s almost 60,000 grams of the sweet stuff.

Bottom line: Focus on eating less sugar overall, not on eliminating just one type.

Here’s the secret to eating healthy:

Eat real food. Don’t rely on the front of the package. Instead, focus on the ingredient list to assess the quality of the product. The healthiest foods on the planet need no marketing at all.

Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, R.D., is the manager of wellness nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, and the author of “Skinny Liver.” Follow her on Twitter @KristinKirkpat. For more diet and fitness advice, sign up for our One Small Thing newsletter.


Photo Source:  © Shutterstock Shopping cart in supermarket aisle

Medical stethoscope and red heart with cardiogram isolated on white. Cardiac therapeutics assistance, pulse beat measure document, arrhythmia pacemaker medical healthcare concept

Understand Your Risk for Cardiac Arrest

Medical stethoscope and red heart with cardiogram isolated on white. Cardiac therapeutics assistance, pulse beat measure document, arrhythmia pacemaker medical healthcare concept

Cardiac arrest may be caused by almost any known heart condition. Most cardiac arrests occur when the diseased heart’s electrical system malfunctions, producing an abnormal rhythm such as ventricular tachycardiaor ventricular fibrillation. Some cardiac arrests are caused by extreme slowing of the heart’s rhythm.  All of these events are called life-threatening arrhythmias. Below is a list of other causes of cardiac arrest:

  • Scarring from a prior heart attack or other causes: A heart that’s scarred or enlarged from any cause is prone to develop life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias. The first six months after a heart attack is a particularly high-risk period for sudden cardiac arrest in patients with atherosclerotic heart disease.
  • A thickened heart muscle (cardiomyopathy) from any cause (typically high blood pressure or valvular heart disease) — especially if you also have heart failure — can make you more prone to sudden cardiac arrest. Read more about cardiomyopathy
  • Heart medications: Under certain conditions, various heart medications can set the stage for arrhythmias that cause sudden cardiac arrest. Paradoxically, antiarrhythmic drugs used to treat arrhythmias can sometimes produce lethal ventricular arrhythmias even at normally prescribed doses. This is called a “proarrhythmic” effect. Regardless of whether there’s organic heart disease, significant changes in blood levels of potassium and magnesium (from using diuretics, for example) also can cause life-threatening arrhythmias and cardiac arrest.
  • Electrical abnormalities: Certain electrical abnormalities such as Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome and Long QT syndrome may cause sudden cardiac arrest in children and young people. Read more about Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome Read more about Long QT syndrome
  • Blood vessel abnormalities: Less often, inborn blood vessel abnormalities, particularly in the coronary arteries and aorta, may be present in young sudden death victims. Adrenaline released during intense physical or athletic activity often acts as a trigger for sudden cardiac arrest when these abnormalities are present.
  • Recreational drug use: In people without organic heart disease, recreational drug use is a cause of sudden cardiac arrest.