How to Stay Fit on the Road

Dispatches from the Road, Fitness & Workouts — By on January 8, 2010 at 2:27 am

By Patty Hodapp
LG Travel Lifestyle Editor

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Ringing in the new year means parties, champagne, and (grumble, grumble) for many people, new promises of better fitness and well-being. When you’re traveling, it’s especially easy to slide into the zero-exercise pitfall where your cardio routine gets thrown by the wayside and replaced with savory (often highly caloric) regional dishes. It’s tough to find time to break a sweat on the road, even though at home you might hit the gym or yoga mat religiously.

It takes two days, according to WebMD, to lose the physical platform of endurance and strength you work so hard to build during your workouts, so even a stagnant weekend or week-long trips can impact your overall fitness. Understanding how to stay fit is easy: keep your muscles moving and eat a balanced diet. Actually staying fit (especially on the road) isn’t that easy. Here are some LG-approved ideas to give your travel-fitness a jump start and help you keep those New Year’s resolutions.

1. Yoga Podcasts: For you yoga buffs, there are free, 20+ minute yoga sessions in a download-able podcast from iTunes. Sites like http://www.yogadownload.com/podcast.asp put out podcasts for any level of yoga, and the 60 plus episodes cover a wide variety: power yoga, Hatha yoga, yoga for runners, yoga for cyclists, morning flow, meditation. Each session comes with a printable packet of images of the poses and some even come with video. So charge up your iPod and burn up some calories and stretch out your limbs on your mat or on a soft hotel towel.

2. Tour On Foot: Walking or jogging right out of your hostel or hotel door is sometimes a great way to see the city you’re visiting. Even 10 minutes of cardio is better than nothing, and a brisk walk or jog is sometimes the best way to see the sights. In Barcelona, since my hostel was far from the city center, I rode the subway down to the Port Olympic strip and ran along the six beaches, and took the subway back up so I didn’t get lost. Ask the hostel manager for a map with a safe route to walk or run. Maps are ultra handy, I got lost in Florence my first day there, and those windy Italian streets all look the same to a foreigners’ eye. It was scary!

3. 10-Minute Tone Up: Each day of your trip, throw in repetition sets of push-ups, sit-ups, lunges and balancing postures to keep your muscles tight. Try mixing up your routines so you don’t get bored, and even doing three sets of 20 will make you feel stronger. Purchase a resistance band ($15-30) from any sports store. They are easily packable and help with stretching and lifting, they increase coordination and you can use them at any fitness level. Also even if you love free weights, using your own body’s weight as resistance is a great way to build muscle and tone up fast. Plus, you don’t have to worry about bringing mats, or weights with you. All the weight you need is you!

4. Digital Exercise: If you have your computer with internet access, you can use YouTube videos like Windsor Pilates “8 Minute Abs” that walk you through safe exercises and even time your repetitions.

5. Snacking and Eating: It may seem like a no-brainer but healthy snacking is probably the biggest challenge on the road. Instead of several small meals during the day, your options might be limited to vending machine food, take out, and dining out. Scrap those super-size candy bars that’ll only give you quick energy and pack fruits instead. Buying fruits from markets or grocery stores is a fun, cheap way to experience the local flavor and feed your sweet tooth. If you don’t have access to a store, throw dried fruit in your bag, which is high in fiber and rich in nutrients. If dried fruit isn’t for you, swap that for other low-cal options like graham crackers, almonds, soy chips, or yogurt.

6. Be Realistic, Adapt: You most likely won’t get the same amount of work out time on the road as you get at your home gym. But, if you can get 50% of your normal workouts in, that’s a good base to work from. Plus, you’re probably walking more than you do in your everyday life. If your trip is long (a few weeks or more) think about touching base with a nutritionist before you leave just to brush up on the basics and get a professional travel fitness plan. Embrace the physical challenges of traveling and find exercise in unconventional ways–climb mountains, hike hills, swim in the ocean, mountain bike. Anything that gets your heart pumping and the blood flowing counts!

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