14 Health and Fitness Tips for Road Warriors

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14 Health and Fitness Tips for Road Warriors

Finding time to tend to health and well-being is a challenge for the notoriously time-starved self-employed. Throw a business trip into the mix and it’s easy to make excuses to slack off.



However, with a little dedication and planning, staying fit and healthy on the road can be accomplished and even enjoyable.



While you may rely on a gym membership or at-home exercise equipment for your workout, there are ways you can stay fit while on the road. Here are some tips and tricks for staying in tip-top shape when you’re away from home.


1. Schedule An Exercise Date With Yourself

The American College of Sports Medicine suggests one of the keys to success is to set aside specific days and times for exercise. That means scheduling exercise time right along with your meetings, sales calls and other business activities while away from home.


If you can’t squeeze in ample time for a full workout, don’t let that be an excuse. Research shows that moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the day in 10-minute bouts can be just as effective as exercising for 30 minutes straight.


2. Veer Off Course When Driving

America’s highways are dotted with interesting places to explore, from historical markers to scenic hiking trails. Take a couple of 30-minute breaks to discover something new along your route and to stretch your legs. You’ll get some exercise and feel more alert for the remainder of the drive.


3. Use Idle Time To Get Active

Today’s regulations regarding early flight check-ins, along with layovers, long delays and even cancellations all translate into idle time. Instead of wandering the duty-free shops or lounging at the bar you can get active.



Of course, you can walk laps around the terminal. Better yet, some airports have created gyms right within the terminals, such as the Las Vegas 24-hour Fitness Center. Travelers also have access to centers located in hotels that are adjacent to airports and are accessible from terminals, such as Orlando’s Hyatt Regency, Detroit Metro’s Westin Hotel and Chicago O’Hare’s Hilton.



Many of these airport gyms are open 24 hours and charge a modest $10 to $15 usage fee. They offer cardiovascular machines such as treadmills, bikes and elliptical trainers as well as free weights. A few have swimming pools and massage services. They have showers too.



Numerous other airports have gyms and fitness clubs nearby that can be reached by cab, mass transit or even a short walk. Check out Web sites like AirportGyms.com or Expedia’s Stuck At the Airport Guides to get more info.


4. Head Outside

After spending countless hours confined to a stuffy airplane, car, conference center or hotel room, sometimes you just need to get outside.



Go for a walk. A little fresh air can be revitalizing and help you clear the cobwebs. It’s also a great way to discover sights and shops or an interesting restaurant for a business lunch.



Strap on a pedometer. These little devices can easily be concealed under your business attire and are a friendly reminder not to always take the lazy route.


In 2007 Dr. Dena Bravata and colleagues at Stanford University in California reviewed numerous studies and reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that on average pedometer users walk more, lose more weight and have lower blood pressure than those who go without the inexpensive and lightweight device. Pedometers were shown to increase physical activity by about one mile of walking per day. Simply set a goal and you’ll find yourself passing the taxi stand, using the stairs or parking a little farther away from your meeting location and taking a few extra steps.



If you’d like to map your route or access existing courses, try free sites like Map My Walk or Map My Run.


5. Pack For Success

Resistance bands and yoga mats are inexpensive, lightweight and don’t take up valuable luggage space. These are great strength-training tools that enable you to engage in a range of exercises that target the whole body.


Items like FitDeck Exercise Playing Cards, which detail various exercises, can help lead you through a workout in the comfort of your hotel room while watching the news or waiting for room service. Jump ropes are handy, too.


6. Turn On Your Laptop, BlackBerry Or iPhone

Technology can be a real helper. Bring along some exercise DVDs to play on your laptop. Or visit Web sites like FitTV, Exercise TV and Make it Fit, which provide exercise program show times and channels, streaming videos and downloadable podcasts of varying lengths.



You might even try something new like yoga or Pilates, which are designed to improve your mental and physical condition. Or something more exciting like belly dancing or kickboxing. You can also check out some BlackBerry or iPhone exercise apps.


7. Go Dancing

Put on some comfortable shoes, grab a colleague or business partner and hit a hot spot. You’ll surely burn calories. You may even learn some new steps and get to know the local culture, too.


8. Hit The Hotel Gym

It’s always wise to call before making hotel reservations and again before your arrival to make sure the fitness center is open for use. Ask about the available facilities, hours of operation and any potential fees. If they don’t have a facility, they may be affiliated with a local gym where you can get a one-day pass for a small fee.


Unfortunately, travelers frequently find that descriptions used in brochures and on Web sites aren’t always a true depiction of exercise amenities. Instead, upon arrival they find their hotel fitness center is stocked with aging or mediocre equipment, or designed as an afterthought in a dreary basement bunker.



Resources including Web sites like Athletic Minded Traveler and Fit for Business offer objective and detailed information on U.S. cities—from running routes and reviews of fitness-focused hotels, to places to eat and health food stores.


9. Don’t Be A Late-Night Exerciser

A good workout can make you more alert, speed up your metabolism and can be invigorating.


However, exercise right before bedtime can lead to a poor night’s sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends exercising at least three hours before bedtime because cooler body temperatures are associated with sleep onset.


10. Make Healthy Food Choices

Fortunately, there’s an alternative to pre-flight cinnamon buns and burgers on the run between connections. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the number of healthful choices in airport restaurants is on the rise.



Nonetheless, it’s easy to overindulge while traveling. Even the most disciplined eater can be tempted during long business diners or by local cuisine.



Avoid unhealthy, high fat foods, which can leave you feeling sluggish and even impede short-term memory. A bag of chopped vegetables, dried fruit, mixed nuts or a protein bar can help get you through your travels. Once at your destination avoid those calorie-laden mini bars and pick up some good stuff at a local store.


11. Monitor Your Food Intake

According to a 2008 study conducted by Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research, people who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t track their intake.



Even if you’re not dieting, “the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories,” said Jack Hollis Ph.D., a lead author of the study and researcher at the Center in Portland, Ore.


Luckily, a food diary doesn't have to be complicated. You can simply scribble down what you eat on a piece of paper or send yourself e-mails or text messages.



If you want a more formal food journal Web sites such as The Daily Plate or Daily Burn can help you track your calories. These sites also have applications that can be downloaded for PDAs and mobile phones.


12. Stay Hydrated

Carry a super-size water bottle. Staying hydrated will keep you energized and prevent cramping whether you’re stuck in an airplane, train or car seat. It’ll also help rev up the metabolism process and keep your body functions regular.



13. Be Friendly With The Hotel Staff

The people working at the hotel desk or the concierge can be walking encyclopedias of all things good near your hotel. They can often supply local area maps for walking or running, point you toward restaurants with healthy eating choices, or—If you’re feeling adventurous—direct you to local businesses for bike or in-line skate rentals.


14. If Illness Strikes

Try to prevent illness by getting plenty of sleep. And keep those pesky germs at bay by your washing your hands frequently. Taking along a bottle of hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol is also a good idea.



Pack your health insurance ID card, toss a couple of medical insurance claim forms in your bag, and input all your emergency contact information in the ICE (In Case of Emergency) entry in your cell phone’s address book.



If you do become ill, call your health insurance company or use Web sites like CitySearch and HealthFinder.gov for listings of dentists, health clinics and pharmacies in your area. If you’re overseas, the U.S. Consulate or Embassy staff are there to help.


For More Information

Learn more about staying healthy and fit while traveling by visiting these Web sites.



The Center for Disease Control and Prevention Survival Guide for Safe and Healthy Travel




The National Restaurant Association healthy eating tips and dining guide


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