When you’re starting a new career, the idea of traveling for business can sound like the hallmark of an illustrious high-status role. You might imagine dashing between global cities – breakfast in London, lunch in Paris and then off to Milan for a high-powered cocktail hour. Sounds great, right?
Once travelers hit the road though, the realization dawns quickly that business travel is far from glamorous. Travelers generally fly to industrial hubs rather than urban centers, and are rarely able to see more than the airport, the office, and a standard hotel room. Many business travelers exist on a steady diet of convenience food and coffee. And hours on the road can be grueling – flying out as early as 4am, and landing as late as 11 takes its toll. It’s not good for your mind and certainly not good for your body. Imagine waking up after a year of steady business travel with an additional 15lbs and a Xanax prescription. Really glamorous.
High frequency travel doesn’t have to mean giving up on fitness and health. Smart travelers find ways to stay fit between flights and you can too. Here are a few easy things you can do to stay fit and healthy while you’re on the road:
1. Corral your calorie count
Travel is inherently sedentary – travel by plane, train or automobile means sitting for hours. Take every opportunity to burn calories. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk the hallway instead of riding the moving sidewalk. Amble back to the hotel instead of hiring a taxi or an Uber. When given the choice, stand instead of sit. It all adds up. Combine that with tactics to limit calorie intake and you’ll be on the right track. Try skipping desserts and starches at dinner – stick to protein and greens. Choose water or red wine over beer. Step away from the donut. And limit servings to just one. You’d be amazed what you can cut out with just a few simple policies.
2. Go for a swim
Lugging gym gear around the world can be a struggle. Each running shoe can take enough suitcase space for another rolled up garment, and true road warriors know that suitcase space is priceless. But a pair of swim trunks or bathing suit and some goggles won’t take up much space. Hotel pools can be a bit hit-and-miss, but usually some decent swimming options aren’t far away. For global travelers, Speedo recently released Fit App with some key features that use geo-location to identify the nearest pools and track your swimming distances against virtual challenges.
3. Technology is your friend
Speaking of apps, there are a host of new tools on the market for busy individuals. There are several options that when mixed into a travel routine can add a lot of value, visibility and awareness to your fitness activities. Consider purchasing a wearable fitness tracker like FitBit, Garmin, Larklife, or Nike’s Fuel Band – these tools are affordable and often export data to Excel for mashups with other apps and trackers. Use them to track all of that walking through airports, offices and cities.
On the diet side of the equation consider using food tracking tools like Livestrong and Lose It!. These apps make it easy to know exactly what you’re putting into your body, and like wearables, the data is available in a dashboard and often exportable to Excel.
No budget for gadgets? No time for spreadsheets? That’s ok. YouTube is chock full of free yoga videos. Simply set up your laptop in your hotel room and asana your way to improved strength and better peace of mind. Many of the videos are as short as 15 minutes and will get your body moving.
4. What gets scheduled gets done
You live by your calendar. If it’s in your calendar, you make it happen. Better yet, if you’ve committed time to another professional, you’re more likely to stay accountable. Find out whether your hotel has a gym, and whether they staff a personal trainer. Book a thirty minute session and force yourself to keep the appointment and get a solid work out. Training sessions are time and money well spent.
You know the old saying - ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail.’ You put a lot of effort into planning trips, setting up meetings, polishing presentations, booking air and hotel. Just as important is factoring in when and how you will stay active. Pack for success and schedule the workout time. If there’s a pool nearby, then check the hours of operation and block out the time you need. If there are no facilities available, then schedule walking, running or other fitness time. If you don’t plan it, it won’t happen.
5. Use your airport time wisely
Lounge access feels like a luxury perk because it affords you a comfortable chair and an unlimited open bar. As far as your body is concerned that’s luxurious inactivity and empty calories.Instead of hitting the bar, hit the pavement instead. Take a walk through the terminals and see how many laps you can squeeze in between flights. Try to beat your record at the last airport. This is a great way to meet your daily steps goal on a FitBit or Garmin personal health tracker. There is also a growing trend in airports around the world to provide in-house gyms for travelers. Work out your stresses in the weight room and you’ll be a lot more relaxed when you reach that final destination.
Business travel can be fairly disruptive to every aspect of your life so make sure you adapt your fitness routine and do your best to stay in shape while traveling for business. Your body will thank you and hopefully you’ll stave off the extra pounds and keep health issues at bay.