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.
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