Workouts on the road

I travel a lot for work and find it hard to keep up my exercise routine while I’m away. How can I stay in shape when I’m on the road?

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Staying fit when your job requires a lot of travel is a challenge but it can be done. And exercise offers big benefits for the business traveller. It reduces stress, keeps you energized for meetings and helps you sleep better. The key to staying fit while you travel is planning ahead.

When you book your flight, order a low-fat low-calorie meal to keep you alert and energetic. Bring your own water bottle and pack a few healthful snacks in your carry-on bag so you don’t have to rely on the food at the airport or on the plane.

Select a hotel that has a health club and pool or one that is located within walking distance of a gym. If you prefer to exercise outside, walking and running are great ways to explore a new city. And you’ll need only your running shoes, which is pretty convenient when you’re packing a light bag. Ask for a map of the city’s parks or running trails at the front desk. You could also contact a local running-shoe retailer—some host runs from their stores.

You don’t have to abandon your muscle-conditioning workout simply because you can’t lug heavy weights around. You can give your abs a workout anywhere using good old crunches. Lunges and wall squats are my favourite lower-body exercises because they’re so effective. They target all of your lower-body muscles and help develop good balance. To do wall squats, press your back and butt against the wall, bending your legs at a 90-degree angle, as if you’re sitting in a chair. Hold this position for 30 seconds to work your quads and backside and then stand up and repeat.

For your upper body, I’d recommend pushups against the wall, off the edge of the bed or on the floor. Or you can pull up a chair and do some tricep dips. Sit in the chair with your hands beside you. Resting your body weight on your arms, slowly push your hips up off the chair a few inches and then lower them with your elbows bent for a great arm workout.

If you pack a resistance tube, you’ll have even more exercise options. The soft, stretchy rubber tube has handles on both ends and is light enough to carry in your suitcase. To do chest presses, stand with your back to a bedpost. Loop the tube around the bedpost behind you, holding the handles in each hand. With your arms straight out at your sides at shoulder height, pull your hands together in front of you. You can order the exercise tubes at www.sportconditioning.ca or by calling 604/904-6556 or 1/888/214-4244. They cost about $10 each.

Stretching your muscles is a super way to start a busy workday when you’re away—or to wind down at night. And don’t forget to stretch during your flight. To keep your blood circulating, get up and walk around at least once an hour and stretch your neck, feet, back and arms while you’re sitting in your seat. Keep in mind that expending energy produces more energy. So, even though exercising may be the last thing on your mind when you’re away on business, if you squeeze it into your schedule, you’ll perform better physically and mentally. And better yet, you’ll return home feeling healthy and refreshed.

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc., is the author of Fit Over Forty: The Winning Way to Lifetime Fitness (Raincoast).