Most fitness buffs will tell you that the key to success is consistency. For many people, maintaining a healthy workout and diet plan at home is a cinch. Unfortunately, one trip out of town can cause utter chaos.
You may eat differently, exercise differently (or not at all), and probably even sleep differently.
Without access to your gym membership, local Whole Foods store, and network of support, how do you stay on track?
Proper exercise and eating habits can be sustained on the road with the right mindset. Sure, you’ll be tempted by greasy burgers, endless piles of fries, and the allure of cakes, cookies, and pastries, but be strong.
In short, proper fitness can happen anywhere. Here are a few simple ways to stay in tip-top shape while on the road.
1. Pack for Success
Chances are you’ll have limited time to squeeze in workouts while on the road. However, this doesn’t stop all travelers from getting some much-needed exercise. According to an analysis of Business Travelers from Scarborough, individuals traveling for work are 78 percent more likely than the average U.S. adult to belong to a gym.
Whether you’re traveling for work or play, it’s crucial to be prepared. Packing for success means bringing items that will be beneficial to your long-term wellness.
First consider you attire. In addition to your day-to-day clothes, you’ll want to pack some comfortable, breathable workout wear. Opt for moisture-wicking clothing which tends to be lightweight and easily folded. Of course, you’ll also want to have a pair of supportive shoes and running socks to keep your feet dry and free from injuries.
If you’re a female, a good quality, supportive sports bra is a must. Don’t be a cheapskate when it comes to your bra. A great sports bra minimizes movement, maintains comfort, and can help prevent irreversible damage that can lead to “sagging” breast tissue.
Finding an open gym while on the road is not always easy. To ensure that you get enough exercise, bring along some essential tools. Lightweight, no-bulk equipment can be thrown into a duffle bag and stored in your trunk for easy access.
Great options include:
- Jump Rope – Small, lightweight, packs easy, and provides an intense workout.
- Pedometer – Keep track of every step you make.
- Resistance Band – Compact and aids in stretching and toning.
- Yoga Mat – Start your morning off with a session of yoga.
- Therapy Balls – Fight off tightness and relieve stress.
- Laptop – To watch workout videos when your motivation starts to fizzle out.
For gym rats who prefer to use real equipment, your pre-trip organizing should include research. Determine where and when the gyms are open at your destination. Call different gyms and try to work out a good “walk-in’ deal to get some workouts in without having to pay a costly membership fee.
2. Make Pit Stops
Pit stops are simply a part of travel. Bathroom break? Snack break? Need a few minutes to stretch your legs? Use these pit stops to your advantage by fitting in a quick workout.
Schedule some time for a quick workout at a rest stop, gas station, or park. Just a few short spurts of physical fitness throughout the day can help keep you in peak shape and your metabolism working at maximum speed.
These effective no-equipment exercises take mere minutes to complete.
- Lunges – Lunges work the glutes, quads and hamstrings. Take one large step with one foot, bend your knee to a 90 degree angle, and hold. Repeat with the other leg.
- Jumping Jacks – Jumping jacks work the calves, hip adductors and hip abductors. While simple, jumping jacks can deliver an excellent cardio workout.
- Pull Ups – Pull ups work the biceps, lats, traps, deltoids, and rhomboids. Find a sturdy tree branch, grip it, and pull up.
- Calf Raises – Calf raises work out and tone the calves. To do them, stand on the edge of a ledge or curb and rise your heels.
- Shoulder Circles – Shoulder circles target the deltoids. This simple exercise consists of putting your arms straight out to your sides and making circle motions.
- Box Jumps – Box jumps work the hamstrings, calves, and quads. Find an elevated surface, such as a park bench, and jump up, then down again.
- Decline Push Ups – Decline pushups target the upper chest. To do this exercise, perform a pushup like usual, but rest your feet on an elevated surface.
- Jump Squats – Jump squats work the hamstrings, calves and quads. With your hands behind your head, complete a regular squat. When you reach the lowest point, jump upwards off the ground.
- Leg Raises – Leg Raises work the abdominals. Lay down and lift both legs off the ground simultaneously to create a 90 degree angle with your body.
There’s no excuse not to work out when the world around you provides ample opportunity for physical fitness. Stairs in your hotel? Jog up and down them. Waiting for your flight? Walk back and forth through the airport instead of sitting.
3. Record Your Workouts
Nowadays, there’s an app for everything. Health and fitness apps can be found by the dozens, and while some are more useful than others, research shows the benefits of using an app to maintain wellness.
In a study published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research, three quarters of participants who used fitness apps reported to being more active compared to past users and non-users. Interestingly, research also found that current users of fitness apps also had lower body mass indexes than past users and non-users.
From fitness diaries to mobile personal trainers, using the right app can help you reach your goals faster and keep you on track when on the road. Here’s our top app choices:
One of the most popular fitness apps today is Fitbit, available on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and the web. While the app can be used in combination with an activity tracker, one isn’t necessarily needed to use the app. Fitbit allows you to track calories, log your weight, count your steps, and retain other health information.
Available for free on Android and iOS, The Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout is the perfect exercise routine during hotel stays. All you need is seven minutes and a chair to get a medium-intensity workout consisting of moves like jumping jacks, crunches, planks, pushups, and high-knee running in place.
Lost It! offers a combination of innovative fitness and nutrition tools, coupled with a supportive network of like-minded folks looking to lose weight. Use the app to count calories, log exercises, and get advice from people who are also shedding unwanted pounds. The app is available on Android, iOS, Nook, Kindle, and the web.
WalkJogRun helps runners find or create running routes in any city of the world, along with tools to help them train effectively. When traveling, it can be hard to determine where a decent and safe route is to workout. This GPS running app has logged more than 207,000 miles of running routes. WalkJogRun requires iOS 6.0 or later.
This free app acts like an electronic coach, giving users feedback in real-time during exercise. Endomondo keeps an accurate record of your fitness history and manually logged workouts. Users also have access to user-made walking, running, and biking routes which can be extremely useful when traveling to new cities.
4. Invest in Wellness
Staying healthy and fit while on the road has never been easier than with the help of fitness-friendly hotel chains. In 2012, 84 percent of hotels offered an exercise, health, or fitness facility on-site.
Hotels know it can be tough to stay focused on fitness when traveling. That’s where hotel fitness programs come into play.
More than just a few exercise machines in the basement of the hotel, these fitness programs consist of yoga classes, personal trainers, health-conscious meals prepared by top-quality chefs, and sometimes even exercise equipment in the guest rooms.
If you’re having trouble staying motivated to work out while on the road, it may be wise to invest in a hotel fitness program. Of course, these programs vary from hotel to hotel so do your research behind handing over the dough.
5. Watch Your Calories
Meals on the go often consist of fast food, room service, and vending machine goodies. While cheap, fast, and convenient, these foods are not good for you. So what should you do when you’re hungry at the airport, or are craving a snack on the interstate?
While it may take some planning, you can eat healthy on-the-go. Whole grain cereal cups, high-protein energy bars, vegetable juice, low-fat yogurt, trail mix, and single serve vegetables are easy to pack and store and offer a nutritional kick.
If you have access to a kitchen, it’s best to make your own snacks and meals versus eating out. While some restaurants offer healthy, low calorie meals, most serve food loaded with salts, fats, and artificial flavors. If you must eat out, choose simple dishes, such as a basic salad with grilled chicken.
Between lack of time, an unfamiliar location, and the temptation of delicious foods everywhere you look, it’s easy to overindulge in flavorful fare. Try to steer clear of fast food and stick to venues that offer more nutritional options. A whole grain roll loaded with veggies from Subway is by far the better choice than anything at McDonalds.
Even those with a strong commitment to health can find it challenging to maintain their physical fitness while traveling. Fortunately, there are many things you can do on the road to better manage your eating and exercise habits. Schedule a time and place for your workouts and keep yourself accountable.