How to stay fit while you travel
Early flights, plane food and the exhaustion of lugging bags and running for trains can be a surprisingly massive load for your body.
Remember: most bodies like habit. Travel can throw out sleeping, eating and worst of all – the exercise habit.
Often, creatives take time off from their exercise routine when they travel.
And this is all good and well, perhaps, if you travel for just a couple of weeks a year.
But what if your work involves conferences and collaboration with people from all parts of the globe? What if travel if a pivotal part of your life?
Then you need a mobile movement strategy.
“ The human body is the best picture of the human soul. ”
Movement versus exercise
One of the ways to stay fit easily when you travel, and indeed even in your normal routine at home, is to reframe the concept of fitness as a product of movement rather than exercise.
Fitness doesn’t just mean being able to run a marathon or pound the weights in the gym.
It means having energy in your day, being able to lift, carry and lug objects, walk long distances, be agile and flexible. It might sound a bit weird – and it’s not like I have a criminal mind or anything – but my personal measure of fitness is my ability to outrun the cops. “Could I outrun that cop?”, I say to myself as he saunters into my local coffee hangout. If the answer’s “Oh yeah totally”, I know I’m on the right track.
But back to travel.
How to keep moving
So, when you’re looking to move rather than exercise, a world of possibility for fitness opens up, no matter where you are.
Here are a few easy things you can do each day to keep movement at the fore:
1. Take stairs instead of elevators – and run up them.
Pretend you’ve got the mafia on your case or something and run like crazy. These short sudden spurts of activity are hugely invigorating and will keep you vibrant.
2. Choose walking before driving.
Walking not only keeps your strength and endurance up, it also allows you to explore the space you’re in better than a car does.
3. Where you can’t walk, use public transport.
Whenever you have to catch a bus or train, you usually have to walk as part of the deal.
4. Do some flexibility exercises as you’re standing around waiting for stuff to happen.
I don’t know about you, but I’m always the early person. So if I’m standing around waiting for a meeting, I take the moment to do some hip gyrations or hamstring stretches. Avoid doing the hip gyration thing in a hotel lobby. But make sure you focus on keeping your joints moving.
5. Do bodyweight exercises.
This is a massive tip. You don’t need weights to do strength training, because you can use the weight of your body. Push-ups, frog leaps, burpees and planks are all do-able in your hotel room.
You don’t need much space, just a towel on the floor. Get a routine together that doesn’t take you more than 30 minutes, and make the commitment to doing it every day.
6. Grab a bike.
Most major cities have bike hire facilities. They’re an inexpensive and convenient form of transport that will maintain your cardio fitness.
A few small food choices make a difference.
Once you’ve got the movement bit nailed, you can focus on what you’re putting in your mouth when you travel. Sticking to an eating plan when you travel is difficult. But there are a few things you can do to keep on track:
1. Carry nuts and a banana.
These are easy and cheap snacks that will give you the macros you need to avoid a hunger attack that sees you jump on the soggy croque monsieur in the window of the seedy food joint around the corner from your digs.
2. Choose water over soft drink.
An easy one, but one that makes a massive difference at the end of the day to not only your calorie intake, but also your ability to think and function. The brain relies on water, you know this intuitively because of the zonker of the headache you get when you don’t have enough during the day. Carry a plastic bottle and take it out with you everywhere you go. And chugg.
3. Order vegan meals on plane flights.
Even if you’re not a vegan. Because they’re usually fresher and have less fat.
4. Eat everything, but in small serves.
Don’t deny yourself completely when you travel. Going to new places is a great opportunity to eat things you may never eat again. But just take them in very small servings. If you’re with a colleague, share a piece of cake rather than having a whole one, order an entree size rather than a main, and forego the bread.
Like creativity, fitness is something you can hone by practising it, even in tiny bites, every day.
Don’t let having to travel for work get in the way of maintaining your fitness.