In an increasingly borderless world, travel on business or pleasure has become quite the norm- customers to be met, office staff across regions, and so forth- and all this travel can play havoc with your routine. The need for improved fitness and well-being on the road has never been greater.
A common refrain among travellers is how to find innovative ways to fit in a workout, manage to eat right and generally reduce trip related stress. Scratch the surface and most travellers will have a sob story to share on the following points:
- Business meetings stretch through the day, and often into the night, and by the end of the day, we are mentally bushed. Nothing sounds better than a warm bed.
- Food and coffee are easily available and everyone else is partaking of the spread so we tend to lower our resistance and join the crowd.
- Gyms at hotels are unfamiliar, so we skip workouts.
Frankly, it all comes down to willpower. The best advice can come to nought if the spirit is weak. Many corporate executives manage to put in their workouts even while travelling, as they understand the importance of fitness. Your travel bag must always have a special set of training gear – a set of running shoes, apparel and accessories – that always accompanies you.
Here are some tips to staying fit while on travel:
- Make friends with the treadmill
- Use your laptop/ hand luggage as a dumbbell
- Walk at every opportunity
- Stay hydrated
- Maintain your composure
- Have an exercise routine
- Hold a firm posture
- Food and non-identification
- Exercise self-control
Regardless of how bad the gym is, almost every hotel has a treadmill. Build your travel workouts around the treadmill. This is not dependent on the clock or weather as hotel gym timings are usually quite generous.
Ignore the stares that other passengers may occasionally throw your way and work your arms out with your laptop bag, while standing.
This means, stop using the escalator! It never fails to surprise me how everyone opts to use the escalator when there is an adjacent staircase in plain sight. Walk the aisle in the plane, even if it is to visit the lavatory every couple of hours. Our calves are not called our second heart for nothing. They play the role of helping pump venous blood from the lower extremities and so, contracting our calf muscles is healthy.
Cabin air is drier than the Thar Desert; so before you hop onto the plane, make sure you have consumed some water. Sip on a bottle of water through the journey. Dehydration causes fatigue- who needs that.
Stress brought on by tight timelines (including stopover flights) is not worth it. Use foresight to plan ahead as stress affects the immune system and exposes us to microbial and other challenges of the plane ride. An airplane cabin is not a very healthy place, being a closed environment with really dry air and people from all over the world.
Staying consistent in our fitness regime is more important than sporadic bursts of exercise, as health gains are lost if we become inactive beyond a few weeks. It is easier to lose fitness than to regain it, and the path to recovery is not easy.
If the gym is uninviting, or your hours are totally chaotic, then do free hand exercise in your hotel room. Stretching exercises as well as exercises with one’s own body weight are excellent ways to stay fit and these can be done even while watching television.
In order to maintain a healthy body weight, we must exercise a minimum of three days a week for at least thirty minutes each day.
You will notice how most people stand with their weight incorrectly balanced. Some muscle groups are over-extended while others are slack- this poor form will eventually take its toll on the body.
Think alignment and relaxation. When our posture is properly aligned, energy flows unhindered and our structure supports our body rather than our muscles. So start to sit straight, stand straight and even think straight.
Learn the art of Body Sensing, where the body and mind work together as a team. We must listen to our body and the messages it sends us, and then act correctly. “I need a coffee to start my day,” is a common refrain but has no true foundation except for habit. The trick is to be flexible and adjust to circumstances.
I admit it is tempting to partake of all the high carbohydrate snacks that are laid out at meetings, the lavish buffet spread and so forth. Don’t deprive yourself totally as that will only build up a hidden craving, but don’t over-indulge. Always remember to include greens in your meal.
Look at yourself in the mirror for further motivation and drive. And the next time you wish to use travel as an excuse for your lack of fitness, think twice!