Avoid fitness losses during extended travel

Squeezing in exercise when travelling for work or pleasure can be a challenge — especially when the beach or clients are calling. Luckily, distance workouts can be efficient and effective when performed properly.

With different or limited equipment availability you may require more knowledge than you did at home. If you plan on being away, check out these tips to ensure you don’t lose ground.

Away for a week
If you’re only away for a week or two, don’t fret over lost exercise gains. It takes more than a week to lose conditioning. Even if you backslide a bit, regaining strength and cardio happens quickly upon return.

In fact, if you’ve been training regularly, the break may be to your benefit. A client recently returned from a family trip to Hawaii relaxed and refreshed to find his regular chin-up count increased by two or three reps. To be clear, mai tais do not typically foster strength gains.

Here’s the caution. While strength and conditioning remain static, weight gain will not. Beware of liquid lunches and restaurant dining. Not only does regular high-calorie feasting pack on the pounds but it messes with your brain.

A stretched stomach and increased sugar and salt consumption resets your need for more. High calorie drinks compound the problem by weakening your resolve, leading to indulgence.

Upon return, many people are either too busy or too discouraged to reignite former healthy habits. By the time you do, weight gain or loss in conditioning seem insurmountable.

All is good if you nip this in the bud as soon as you return.

Extended or regular travel
The longer your stay, the more important it is to establish routine. Don’t be fooled into thinking an occasional walk on the beach or sprint through the airport concourse constitutes exercise. Snowbirds often return 10 plus pounds heavier and business class spread is a common problem.

Research your destination to determine options. Does your hotel have a gym? Does your current gym membership permit out-of-town privileges at other locations? Is there a gym close to your hotel with reasonable short-term rates? Do you have a fitness travel bag that includes a few key pieces (more on that later)?

Distance education
Set the stage for success by establishing an exercise plan before you travel. A personal trainer can check out your destination gym and prescribe a simple yet effective program that reflects your needs and limitations.

Your ‘out of office’ workout may be significantly different from your normal workout depending on equipment and goals. More than likely, you will require more than one session with a trainer for things to stick.

Better yet, consider online training so that support is only a click away. Online training usually includes monthly program adjustment, video demonstrations, chat and email sessions with your Trainer. Most important, online training promotes accountability.

Suitcase gym
If you don’t have access to a gym, body weight exercise and resistance bands will do the trick. Basic compound movements that include a squat, a push and a pull will work most of your major muscle groups. Add a few plank variations if you want to fire your core.

If you aren’t strong enough to complete the exercises above or if you require variations, bring along a few resistance bands. Colour-coded bands come in a variety of tensions from extra light to extra heavy. When using bands remember to slow down the movement and hold the muscle when contracted. Bands assist instead of resist movement when performed too quickly. Each rep should take around four to six seconds. When in doubt, go slow.

When making travel arrangements don’t forget to include exercise in your planning. Whether doing sprints on the beach or push ups in your hotel room between meetings, sticking to a routine keeps your head clear, body weight in check and muscles strong.

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