During the past three weeks, I had the opportunity to travel to both England and Canada. (I live in the U.S. – the state of Illinois.) The trip to England was by air, of course, and the trip to Canada was a 10-hour drive each way! By the end of the three-week course, I was exhausted. I’m just now getting back to my normal routine, and I learned a lot about staying healthy and fit while traveling from personal experience. Now that I’m home, I’ve been reading and researching travel and fitness tips. I found you don’t have to arrive at your destination dehydrated, disoriented and too tired to enjoy yourself. There are creative ways to exercise, even while on the road (or on the plane!). Says Rebecca Johnson, co-author of Travel Fitness, “Travelers can easily incorporate their regular fitness programs or begin a new program when away from home. There are creative ways to be healthy and fit while on the road, with the added benefits of reduced stress and increased productivity.”
First of all, if you are traveling by plane, the following items would be helpful for your well-being and comfort:
- Lumbar roll for your back (my lower back ached a lot during flight – I wish I had known this tip before I went!)
- Eye shades
- Ear plugs
- Eye drops, lip balm & moisturizer (cabin air is very drying)
- Large water bottle (very important to stay hydrated in flight, which means you need more than the standard 64 oz. of water per day. Add an extra 6-8 oz. of water for every hour you’re in the air. Limit your consumption of coffee and alcohol.)
- Nutritious snacks, such as raisins and/or soda crackers
- Order a special meal–low-salt, diabetic, vegetarian or kosher. It’ll be more nutritious than regular airline fare.
While you’re on the plane, get up every hour and walk the length of the plane to keep your blood circulating and decrease the pressure on your back. If walking around isn’t possible (flight attendants serving others, for example), at least go to the back of the plane, stand for awhile, and do simple stretching exercises.
When you arrive at your destination, get outside and take a walk, especially if it’s still daylight. Not only will the walk improve your mood, energy level and circulation, but you’ll recover from jet lag more quickly as well.
If you’re lucky, your hotel will have a pool and/or fitness room. Take advantage of both! Be sure to pack a bathing suit, walking/running shoes, and exercise clothes. Get up ½ hour early and take a swim or walk on the treadmill. If you have your evening free, you can do your workout and then treat yourself to the whirlpool or sauna.
When I was in England, I stayed with friends, not at a hotel. However, I quickly learned that the Britons rely on their feet a lot more than their cars! We only took the car when we absolutely had to. We walked so much during the week I was there, I lost three pounds! My one friend runs or bikes to and from work every day, even in the rain–five miles each way. The family swims together (at an indoor pool) once a week; sometimes bikes to church; and the children are in a running club. Errands are done on foot–they use a metal pull-cart to carry their wares home. It was a rare sight to see an overweight Brit. I think Americans could learn a lot from them in this regard!
Unfortunately, my trip to Canada didn’t go as well as my trip to England. It was an emergency road trip (two days after I arrived home from England!) due to a death in the family. By the time we drove 10 hours and arrived at our hotel in the evening, I was crabby and tired and didn’t feel like taking a walk. Now that I look back on it, I should’ve dragged myself outside anyway–it would’ve made me feel better afterwards.
According to Rebecca Johnson and Bill Tulin (the other author of Travel Fitness), to preserve your hard-earned fitness level, exercise at least every third day while on the road. Perform at least a third of your aerobic routine at your typical level of intensity and complete your strength-training program at least once a week, using the same amount of resistance.
Keeping at least part of your routine intact will keep your energy level up.