Last Updated on August 5, 2019 by Candy Wafford
Traveling is hard on the body. Hours of sitting on a plane or train or in a car take its toll. Add in carrying luggage around and the stress that comes with travel also contributes to fatigue. But it’s hard enough to keep fit at home much less when traveling.
Incorporating physical activity into your travels will help minimize discomfort and give you the energy you need on the road. Sometimes I get an unintended workout when I run to catch a flight. I prefer workouts that don’t involve running up escalators carrying luggage and dodging people in airports! But I can do those things (and catch my flight) because I exercise regularly. Below are the ways I stay fit while traveling.
Regular exercise is a non-negotiable for me. Workouts give me the energy I need to get through my day, help me sleep better, and improve my mood. I like to workout 3-5 days a week doing both cardio and strength workouts. Yoga is also an important part of my wellness routine, especially when traveling.
I always pack workout clothes. I don’t always use them, but packing them prevents me from having the excuse that I don’t have my workout gear. Yoga can be done in you PJs so no excuses not to do some exercise while traveling.
Traveling for Work vs. Vacation
Any change in schedule makes it difficult to adhere to your routine. But fitness doesn’t always have to involve a routine. On vacation, I often find that I’m more active than normal from walking everywhere and doing active excursions. When I wore a Fitbit it wasn’t uncommon for me to log 12,000 – 20,000 steps a day on vacation.
Traveling for work is a different story! Most of my work trips are no more than a couple of days and usually involve very long days where it’s difficult to squeeze in a workout. But I’ve found some ways to include fitness on the road, and some of them are even fun! The key is to be creative and flexible.
If I could only do one type of workout on the road, it would be yoga. First, because it can be done without any equipment and in a small space. Secondly, it’s great for stretching out tight muscles from sitting, walking, and carrying luggage. I have done yoga in hotel rooms in Ecuador, on beaches in Ft. Myers, Florida, and in a hundred hotel rooms.
Spread your arms and that’s all the space you need to do a yoga practice. You can easily stretch out your back and legs doing a few moves lying in bed. I have a foldable yoga mat made for travel but I find it takes up too much space in my suitcase so I usually place a towel on the floor and use that. I find these yoga socks are great to keep in my bag and do a good job of providing traction on a slick surface.
I often do a few poses in the morning to get the blood flowing, or some when I get to my room to stretch out my hips, back, and legs from flying. YouTube videos are great when you want to do a longer practice and there are lots of workouts for yoga while traveling. These are some of my favorites yogi YouTubers:
Workout in the Hotel Gym
Many hotel chains offer fitness rooms for guests to use. Which is great but you don’t always know what equipment to expect. I’ve been in hotel gyms that rival the gym I use in my hometown and others that have just a treadmill and a few weights. You can probably find a picture of the gym on the hotel’s website to give you an idea of what equipment is available.
Most hotel gyms will have a couple of cardio machines, a bench, and some free weights. And you can get a great workout with just those items. Do a circuit by using a cardio machine for a few minutes then do a set of weights. I find cardio machines to be boring and will often do 10-15 minutes on 2-3 different machines. I get a great workout with some variety and the time passes more quickly.
Now, using hotel gyms on work trips does bring about the potential to see co-workers either in the gym or in the lobby. This can be awkward (hello, messy hair and no makeup) and some may find it uncomfortable to work out next to a peer. But, I’ve become ok with it and know that the value I get by maintaining my fitness goals is more important than any social awkwardness. Oh, and that time I was lifting the same weight as my male co-worker was awesome!
Workout in Your Hotel Room
I often do a quick workout in my hotel room if time is tight. You can get a great workout doing exercises that just use your body weight. Do a few sets of push-ups, squats, crunches, lunges, and tricep dips and you’ve done a complete body workout! Throw in some cardio moves like jumping jacks or jogging in place and you’ve got yourself a HIIT workout.
Sometimes I pack a resistance band and use it to for a quick workout. A band is small, doesn’t weigh much, and you can do a ton of different exercises with one.
At the Airport
At the airport, I feel like I’m either running or sitting. If I have extra time, I will walk between terminals instead of taking a train. Walking on moving sidewalks is a great way to move quickly while incorporating some activity into your journey. Taking the stairs instead of elevators is another option to help you stay fit while traveling. It’s also extra incentive to pack light!
Some airports offer fitness rooms and/or yoga rooms to help passengers use their layover to include a workout. San Franciso, Baltimore, O’Hare, Dubai, Toronto, Vancouver, and Detroit airports all have fitness centers available for use.
Combine Fitness & Sightseeing
If my work takes me to a particularly scenic spot, I’ll try and do a workout outside. Going for a run is a lot more enjoyable when there is something pretty to look at. I can’t tell you about any of the workouts I’ve done in a hotel gym, but I remember that run I did around the waterfront in Sarasota. Walking a few blocks around a new city is another great option to move and sightsee at the same time.
Book Active Excursions
If you are on vacation, book some active excursions as a way to build more fitness into your trip. Going to the beach? Go snorkeling or paddleboarding. On a city break? Book a food tour that includes walking. You get the idea. Not only will you stay fit while traveling, but you may also find a new activity you enjoy.
Staying fit while traveling doesn’t have to be difficult. It just requires a little advance planning and some discipline. Trust me, I would rather just lay in a hotel bed but know how much better I’ll feel if I get off my butt and do something. I hope my tips for staying fit on the road have inspired you to move more next time you travel!