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Simple Tips for Getting (and Staying) Fit

Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio January 1999 Current Issue
January 1999 On TravelPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

On Travel


Simple Tips for Getting (and Staying) Fit

These no-excuse shape-up strategies work at home and on the road

Many travelers believe the obstacles, pressures and limitations of frequent travel are the real culprits behind their unhealthy habits. The experts know better: People who make exercise and healthful eating a priority in their daily lives don’t jettison those habits when they’re on the road.

Business travelers don’t necessarily leave their good habits behind when traveling often they don’t have any good habits to take along. If that description fits you, here are some strategies for choosing and committing to a healthier lifestyle. (Note: Consult a physician before undertaking any new activity or fitness regimen.)

  • Don’t be waylaid by slip-ups. You didn’t exercise for a week. You ate the whole bag of Oreos. Just get back on the program. Healthy living isn’t an all-or-nothing venture.
  • Check your attitude. If you view eating or exercise as “work” or simply another item on a to-do list, you’re unlikely to adopt healthy habits.
  • Invest the time. Some people don’t exercise, nor do they make an effort to prepare healthful meals because time away from work is wasteful “downtime” and thus verboten.
  • Start slow. Do one thing right now, whether it’s stretching, walking, deep breathing or visualization, that makes you feel good and reinforces your commitment to change.
  • Identify what stresses you. Stress undermines your general health as well as your best efforts to work out and eat well. But you can’t employ stress-reducing techniques until you know what triggers these feelings for you. Another reason to master this demon? “Unless you deal with it, you’re likely to fall back into old bad habits,” says Deby Harper, a certified fitness trainer and president of The Fitness Co., based in Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • Build in incentives. It works for sales forces, it’ll work for you. Give yourself something to look forward to. Exercise at your favorite time of day. Pick a scenic route for a walk or run. Swim in a great pool. Try out new equipment.
  • Be flexible. You’ll short-circuit your regimen if you limit yourself to an equipment-dependent routine. Throw in a walk or a run, a hike in the mountains or around town. And use what’s available. In your hotel room, Harper suggests doing calf raises and squats on a phone book to strengthen legs. Use a towel and a chair as props for a stretch-and-tone routine for the entire body. Hit the floor for push-ups and crunches. A cardiovascular workout is as close as a hotel’s (or an office building’s) stairs: Run up and down as many flights as you can in whatever time is available. Take a brisk walk outside during lunch or a break.
  • Pack your equipment. Lightweight exercise bands, a jump rope or inflatable weights don’t take up much room. Some hotels also provide everything from a stationary bicycle or treadmill to free weights for in-room use.
  • Seek support. If you’re more likely to work out with someone else, find a fitness buddy or book a session with a trainer. Some hotels have on-site staff or can recommend a local trainer. If you like a crowd, take a scheduled class at a local club or the hotel fitness center. The American Council on Exercise (800-825-3636) can help locate a certified fitness professional.
  • Exercise in little bites. It’s okay if you don’t have an hour to spare; you don’t need a lot of time to work out effectively. Use small chunks of time, as little as five minutes, to exercise wherever you can in the early morning, during a break in the day, between meetings. “No one ever said you had to do them all at the same time,” notes Harper. A couple of stretches here, some push-ups and crunches there, a few yoga postures, a quick run on the stairs, a brisk walk around the block, some deep breathing, all help. And it all adds up.
  • Listen to your body’s rhythms. Exercise when you feel strong and alert. You’ll do more in less time if you’re not fighting your own body.
  • Plan ahead. Search online or call ahead for local facilities and resources health clubs, YMCAs or YWCAs, community centers, classes and trainers. The Fitness Guide (www.forbes.com/tool/toolbox/fitness/index.asp) details the offerings at many hotels and area fitness centers, like the Broadway Bodyworks in Denver, where nonmembers pay $8 a day to enjoy the club.
  • Buy the book. The information on the Forbes site is from The Fitness Guide: Where to Work Out When You’re on the Road by Kyle Merker (Incline Press, New York City, $14.95). When fitness is the reason for your travel, get Healthy Escapes (Fodor’s Travel Publications, New York City, $17) to find the resort or spa that’s right for you.
  • Marlene R. Fedin is a contributing editor to Frequent Flyer magazine, a sister publication of M&C. This article was adapted from Frequent Flyer.

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