One of the more popular questions I get about my book Travel Balance is around how to exercise while traveling.
Here is an excerpt from Chapter 8 on “I Don’t Have Time to Exercise”…enjoy!
In a previous chapter, I mentioned one idea to step up your exercise during the trip, and that is to walk around the airport as much as you can before your flight. Walking is one of the best exercises around and can be your primary exercise when traveling (along with climbing stairs). As most airports are beginning to look more and more like malls, it can be tempting to stroll slowly and visit all the shops. That’s okay, but I’m really suggesting that it might be more worthwhile to walk from one end of the terminal to the other at a fairly brisk pace. You can walk by all of the stores on your quick stroll, then come back and visit shops after you’ve walked for 15-20 minutes. If you are pulling your wheeled luggage behind you, be sure to switch hands every now and then to keep your back and arms balanced. You don’t want to focus too much on only one side of your back or shoulder, as it might cause tightness and/or pain before you get on the plane. I usually have on a backpack, and will take that off and start doing mini-curls with it. I just hold it by the top handle with one hand and curl up as I’m walking. To keep things balanced, I alternate sets, switching hands.
Once you arrive at your destination airport and are walking toward the exit (or baggage claim), you may see moving sidewalks and escalators. I recommend that you avoid those in lieu of stairs and more walking to get that little extra exercise, especially after sitting on a plane for a long flight.
Another one of my favorite forms of exercise on the road is the stairs. When possible, I only use the elevator to get to my room on check-in and check-out (when I have my bags with me). After that, I like to take the stairs to my room. I say ‘when possible,’ because sometimes you are in a high-rise hotel, and I’m not going to trek up and down 45 flights of stairs every morning and night on my way to and from work. I have, however, been known to put on my workout clothes and run up and down the stairs just for exercise. In this case, I can usually go from my floor to the top or bottom and back. It’s a great workout, but you have to be careful not to go too fast so you don’t trip. Also, most hotel stairwells are not the prettiest looking or smelling places, so I’ll leave this potential adventure up to you. You can also use the stairs at your workplace instead of the elevator or escalator during your trip.
Obviously, you might want to plan your day so that you can use the hotel’s exercise facilities. Some people like to get up extra early to work out or use the facility at night after dinner. I’ve worked with many people who like to use the elliptical machine, treadmill, weights, swimming, or attend classes. It’s fine if you can work it in but, in my opinion, I’d rather spend this time seeing sights in the city or having a nice meal with people I don’t normally get to see if that is an option. If you can work it all in, that’s great, but most trips involve so many activities that it’s hard to do it all. It’s also entirely possible to do some exercise in your hotel room using internet videos for things like yoga and other types of exercise classes. Some hotels are now offering more and more services and classes to cater to healthy travelers.
Keep in mind that there are other things that you can do to support your body while on the road. While it’s not exercise, activities like massage can provide huge benefits to travelers, which is one reason that you are seeing more and more of this in airports. I remember taking a long overnight flight from Rome to Beijing. Since I have a hard time sleeping on planes, I rested most of the way (suspended animation) and was a bit tired once we arrived. After getting to our hotel in Beijing, we found a foot massage spa not very far away, so we got to walk (always great after a long flight), and got a fabulous foot massage (which are usually fairly inexpensive in Asia). This was one of the best ideas we ever had, as we felt completely refreshed and ready to go afterwards. After that, this became a travel habit whenever possible after long flights. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a “massage” category on your company’s expense reimbursement forms?
I approach each destination as a place I’ll never get to visit again, so I would rather see a few more unique sights than log an extra 45 minutes on the treadmill or elliptical rider, as I can do that at home. It’s all about priorities. And while exercise is important, please consider that you may be missing out on some unique opportunities.
Along the same lines, and this can be a controversial topic, I know quite a few frequent travelers who spend the majority of their time in their hotel room doing email and/or other “work.” If possible, schedule this work while you are waiting at the airport, or on the plane. I know that life/work balance can be challenging (especially these days), but it’s so sad to hear stories from these folks who have been to amazing places all over the world, but “never had a chance to see anything” as they didn’t leave the hotel.
This is all about priorities, but as we know today, the work world can absolutely consume us. There are some situations where you just don’t have an option, but others with more soft deadlines give you a choice. I was so fortunate on many of my trips, because I was traveling with some really fun people and we would do our best to keep those on our team from spending their nights working in their hotel room (we had to be quite persuasive at times). On one particular trip in Singapore, four of us had to work pretty hard to get one of our class instructors to join us for a visit to the night zoo, a unique place to be sure. We worked on her all day, and finally got her to commit to join us. It’s a longer story than I’ll go into here, but let’s just say that I know five people whose stomachs never hurt so much from laughing. It was truly a memorable experience, and I know she’ll never regret joining us as opposed to a solo evening of responding to email. People who are on their deathbed mostly regret the things that they didn’t do, and that was rarely more work.
You are traveling for business for a reason, and if you can’t perform at your best, it could cause you to lose the sale or impact the success of your event. What’s that worth to you? …And your business or event?
Employee retention and employee engagement are two critical issues that companies are facing today. Could increased stress be a contributing factor?
John has traveled to more than 26 countries with IBM (sales and training) over 30 years (he’s lived it) and is a Traditional Naturopath (natural health practitioner), meeting planner, consultant, and author. He has taught more than 4,000 people his actionable travel tips and stress management tools with rave reviews. There’s more to it than just exercise and eating healthy.
John is an expert in Wellness, especially when traveling, and will give your participants new information that they didn’t know about how to stay healthy. He is extremely responsive and easy to work with after 25+ years of conditioning by IBM.
You can expect a highly interactive and engaging presentation followed by actionable outcomes for all participants!