No More Excuses – You Can Exercise While Traveling!
During the decades of my business career, I traveled often from my Boston home. A publishing systems sales territory stretching from New York through Indiana. High-tech product management, customer support, and marketing throughout the US and Europe. And then consulting clients throughout North America and Europe, once commuting almost weekly for a year to the Pacific coast. Sometimes I exercised, but often I used both standard and creative excuses to avoid it.
With a little forethought and planning, it is certainly possible to exercise while occasionally or even constantly on the road. Here are some ideas that may help. But first, two notes.
This post is mostly for the traveler who wants to stay fit but has a few questions, or perhaps a few too many excuses… The dedicated athletes among you should just remember to pack your “stuff”. I once trained for the Boston Marathon while mostly on the road, and it was relatively easy – don’t forget your gear and hit the road or the hotel treadmill late at night. Second, the Primal Blueprint point of view is very useful: to stay fit, walk, lift heavy things, and sprint every now and then.
With apologies to Star Trek fans, here’s a new prime directive: no matter where you are in the universe, walk. As often as you can. So, wear comfortable shoes, for heaven’s sake! If the weather or neighborhood is bad, walk indoors. Find the nearest mall or treadmill. Walk the halls, have walking meetings. Ask the hotel front desk where you can walk. Always try to use the stairs. Here’s a great sign I once saw in a rehab hospital at the door to the stairwell.
Here’s another idea: pick some favorite bodyweight strength exercises and set a daily goal for the number of repetitions you’ll do. You can do these your room, or even sneak them in at a client site. I like the four Primal Essential Movements of pushups, planks, squats, and pullups (although these require a pullup bar, something most hotel rooms don’t have!). You could set a goal of doing 50 pushups each day on the road. Do 10 when you wake up, 10 before you brush your teeth after breakfast, etc. You get the picture. What if you can’t do a pushup? That’s no excuse! Start with progressive pushups. Here’s a great article about these movements, with video instructions on how to progress from easier to harder.
Why sprint? We evolved to sprint. Before we were surrounded by food, we would occasionally have to sprint to catch it or avoid becoming it. The very high intensity of sprinting is a beneficially shocking metabolic event that helps you stay young. You’ll release adaptive hormones into the bloodstream; your metabolic function will be elevated with the effect lasting for hours.
How can you sprint while traveling? First, don’t do this if you are not physically ready. And it isn’t necessary every day, so if your trips are short wait until you are home. But there is probably a parking lot, sidewalk, or street where you are staying. And, sprinting does not have to be “sprinting”. It is just any very taxing exercise that you can do for 10 - 20 seconds at a completely all-out pace. While the high-impact of actual sprinting helps strengthen joints and bones, you could instead use the rowing machine or stationary bike, for instance. Try for 3 – 5 reps, but don’t injure yourself – make sure you are ready for this. Here are 13 ways to sprint without sprinting, so: no excuses.
For some ideas about eating, especially on business travel, see Faster Than Real Time.
Have a Healthy Trip!