Hopping in and out of planes is exercise enough, you say. But that’s not the kind of exercise that will condition your heart, make your reflexes and joints more fluid, keep your sugar levels in check or stop mood swings. Nor is it the kind of exercise that will make you euphoric after a good cardiovascular session. You need to counteract the effects of jet lag, artificial air in pressurized aircraft cabins and sky fatigue.
Travel isn’t always a bad thing for your exercise program either. If you’re used to a routine travel for business or for pleasure could be the best thing to shake things up a bit. Not all hotels will have the equipment that your health club does, and some hotels may not have a fitness centre at all so you’ll have to improvise. You may find that trying new equipment will trigger your excitement for the gym again and could even boost your results.
Some nice hotels have spa facilities that you can enjoy while on a business trip. Reward yourself with a facial or a massage after a session on the treadmill or 10 laps in the pool. This is a great way to unwind for the evening, and an added bonus for the individual on the go.
What are some of the reasons why travelers do not incorporate exercise while they’re on the road?
- They’re stressed or too tired
- They don’t feel comfortable about working out in unfamiliar surroundings
- They don’t have access to a hotel gym
But if they made just a tiny effort to change this thinking, they’d be on the road to fitness sooner. Engaging in exercise allows you to get out of that bubble of meetings, seminars and tours.
Walk when on the Road
When traveling, have a pair of good walking shoes, preferably trainers, so that you won’t feel so daunted about getting from one side of the airport to the other.
Having the right pair of walking shoes will encourage you to walk up the stairs instead of taking the escalator, to walk instead of taking the conveyor belt, and to transfer from one concourse to another on foot instead of taking the shuttle service.
You may not know it, but walking these long distances with your luggage in tow serves as a combination/weight lifting exercise.
Fitness while Flying
Once settled comfortably on the plane, make sure you time your stretching and walking periods. If it’s just an hour’s flight, walk around the plane once and do your stretching at the back of the plane, if it’s a three hour to five hour flight, try to get up from your seat and walk around at least once every hour, doing leg extensions and trunk/neck movements.
Airlines such as Japan Air Lines show videos of how travelers can incorporate flexibility movements while seated or standing. Take full advantage of these videos. The exercises may help you ward off fatigue and jet lag.
A note about DVT
In the last five years, there have been reports about flight passengers, especially in economy class, suffering from DVT – Deep Vein Thrombosis.
The link between confining airplane seats and deaths from DVT (formation of deadly blood clots) has been established by the United Nations World Health Organization. It has nothing to do with gender, risk factors or genetics. Everyone is at risk in economy class. This should constitute a compelling reason to integrate exercise while high in the sky.
To make exercise possible while traveling, try to schedule your flights so you have some time for exercise when you get to your destination.
Try to arrive during the late afternoon/early evening, to give you time to shake off the fatigue from the trip, and have at least an hour to do exercises either in your hotel room or in the hotel gym.
If your job requires you to travel at least four times a month, ask your company’s travel department to book you in hotels with gyms or a swimming pool.
Take time out of your travel schedule to insert a workout into your grinding schedule.
Here’s a friendly suggestion. Get up earlier in the morning and before or after breakfast, head over to the gym and do a brisk walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes, or use the rowing machine for 10 minutes. This session is just to wake you up from your travel stupor. See if you can walk to your business appointment instead of taking a cab.
At night, before going to bed, go to the hotel gym again and lift weights for 10 minutes, to complete your workout for the day. This way you did your cardio and resistance training, two essential components of a fitness program.