Between jet lag, fast food, and disrupted schedules, travel can wreck havoc on your health and fitness. That’s why it’s important—especially during the busy holiday season—to make time to stay active and eat right while you’re on the road.
Laurie Haynes, the chief operating officer of Parris Communications in Kansas City, Mo., travels about once a month to meet with clients, and she maintains her daily workout regimen as much as possible. If anything, exercise is even more important on the road.
"It's a real stress reliever when I'm traveling," Haynes says. "Even if I have dinner with a client, I still have my evening and early morning to dedicate to my own health and fitness."
Experts recommend you put exercise on your calendar just like you would any business appointment, at home or away. Here are a few more tips on ways to eat healthy and stay active on your next business trip:
Check out the hotel gym in advance
If you're choosing your own hotel, look for one with a fitness center that meets your needs. During those times when you don't have a say in your accommodations, you may be able to find a gym that welcomes drop-ins. That's what Ron Jones does. The corporate training manager from Las Vegas travels for work four to six times a year. Before a trip, he visits TripAdvisor or Yelp to find nearby health clubs that offer guest or day passes. One gym gave Jones a free pass, asking only that he post a review.
"You'd be surprised how willing these places are to work with you," Jones says.
Create your own workout
You can find stairs to climb or exercise in your room. Search for fitness videos online, or follow a routine that uses your own body weight. The New York Times' 7-Minute Scientific Workout is perfect for travel, and it even has its own app.
Motivational speaker and business consultant Barry Maher says making his fitness a priority is a business necessity. Otherwise he wouldn't be able to keep up his intense schedule. Wearable tech can also help you meet your goals for daily activity.
"I travel with a heart rate monitor, and in a pinch I have been known to run wind sprints up and down the hotel corridor—as quietly as possible," Maher says.
Pack for exercise
Depending on her destination, Haynes says she always travels with gym clothes and shoes, and a swimsuit and goggles. If she knows she'll have a safe place to run outdoors, she’ll also pack her running gear. “Resistance bands and a jump rope also travel well,” she adds.
Take control of your eating
Travelers don't have to accept fast food and overpriced airport fare as their only options, Jones says. He tries to book rooms with a kitchenette or refrigerator. When he travels by car, he preps meals at home and brings them in cooler bags. Or he'll shop for basics at a local grocery store so he can eat the way he wants to.
Haynes feels like she has less control over her diet than her exercise routine, because clients usually make the dining decisions. And those free hotel breakfasts? "That can be excruciating for people trying to watch what they eat," she says. So Haynes packs protein bars as a last resort for mornings.
In airports, Maher's strategy is to buy healthy food as soon as he sees it, because there may not be good choices later on. "That may mean buying lunch if I see something good while running from one flight to another at 9:30 a.m.," he says.
With a little planning and purpose on your next business trip, you won't have to leave your healthy habits at home.
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