Taking Fitness on the Road
By: April Swales, Cooper Fitness Center professional fitness trainer
Do you sometimes feel like you live in a hotel room? Just because we leave town doesn't mean we have to leave behind our fitness routine. Learn more about simple yet effective ways to stay in sharp while on the road.
It happens on every vacation. We’re getting ready for a trip and as we load our suitcase, we decide that we mustn’t forget our workout clothes. Of course we’re going to get up early each morning, of course we’re going to use the hotel workout facility and of course we’re going to practice good judgment at each meal. Our intentions are genuine, but reality is a bit more tarnished. Why is it so hard to stay on the healthy track when we travel? Maybe we’re tired. Maybe we don’t feel comfortable working out in a strange place. Or maybe we don’t want to wait in line for limited equipment. Sound familiar?
First and foremost, our expectations need to be realistic. If your travels are taking you away on business and meetings will consume much of your energy, you’re more likely to skip those “good intentions,” i.e. workouts. Dining over business can also be difficult, especially when the meal includes cocktails and/or dessert. This usually leads to guilt, which can be frustrating and counterproductive. Falling off the wagon is not the real problem—the real issue is how long it takes for us to get back on. Allowing ourselves a small break from routine is OK, but we need to be cautious about how long that break is. If you plan to be gone more than a few days, then it’s best to try and get some sort of exercise while you’re away. Your travel exercise mantra should be, “Something is always better than nothing.” The good news is that you’ll only need a few simple tools to stay on task.
One of the easiest exercise travel tools you can own is the basic workout band with handles. They’re inexpensive (around $20 each), easy to find and they travel light. They come in many different resistance levels and often come packaged with a soft nylon door anchor already attached. All you need to add is a door that will shut completely when the anchor is in place. Nearly any exercise performed on a cable in the weight room can also be done with an exercise band and the proper amount of space. The door anchor makes it easy to place and you may secure the band at any level. Since you’ll be correcting your own posture as you exercise (vs. leaning back against the chair on a machine), you’ll be recruiting more muscles and strengthening your trunk. And don’t forget your own body weight plus gravity! Basic movements such as sit ups, push-ups, jumping jacks and squats are a great way to break a sweat and require no equipment at all. Visit the Cooper Aerobics blog for examples of exercise band movements.
Anyone who uses applications on their smart phone understands how helpful they can be. There are so many exciting fitness applications out there, many of them free. You can download exercise demonstration photos, nutritional info and eating logs—you can even get an application that can track your movement via GPS and map out a walking or jogging route for you. Record keeping is an excellent way to motivate yourself, even when you’re not on the road.
Many hotels include fitness options for guests. There are also options at certain hotels to have basic equipment in your room, free of charge. Marriott International Inc. and Hilton Hotels Corp. offer in-room fitness options for business travelers. Both chains provide low-tech workout equipment such as mats, free weights and exercise bands.
If you're interested in fitness options at your hotel, ask the hotel concierge. If you’re fortunate enough to be traveling for fun, try and mix some healthy activities into your itinerary. Wear comfortable shoes and walk whenever possible, try dancing with dinner or maybe hike and enjoy the scenery. The change in your routine will also help you recover from your normal workouts without being sedentary. Your body enjoys change just like your mind, even if what you’re doing is less strenuous than what you’re used to.
Inevitably, we will hit bumps on the road to health and wellness. But traveling should never be a roadblock. Being consistent, although challenging, is not impossible. Even with the best intentions, there will be times when we simply have to take a break. Budgeting that time off wisely with our diet will help. Remember that this lifestyle is a long term commitment and there will be peaks and valleys. Stay positive, stay focused and have fun!