Road Work

Many people who exercise regularly at home don’t schedule workout time when they travel. Business trips, with their rounds of appointments, seminars, and dinners, seemingly afford no time for workouts. But fitness experts say that to stay mentally and physically sharp, combat jet lag, and sleep better at night—often a problem for travelers—the best solution is hitting the gym or even just the floor of your hotel room.

In-room workouts. Check the television listings in your hotel room to see if you can catch a televised aerobic program. There are also various strengthening exercises—such as abdominal crunches, dips, lunges, push-ups, and calf raises—that can be done using regular furniture in lieu of complicated weight machines. Various books, videos, and popular fitness magazines demonstrate some of these techniques, or if you belong to a gym at home, ask the trainers there for suggestions.

Many strength-building exercises can also be done using easy-to-carry products like DynaBands, which are elastic bands that provide resistance. “They’re very compact and inexpensive ($20 for a pack of four),” says Joan Price, a Sebastopol, Calif.-based fitness author, writer, and instructor. The bands are available on her Web site at www.joanprice.com as well as at most regular fitness or sports stores. Jump ropes, also easy to carry, are a great way to get a cardiovascular workout. For an equipment-free workout during the business day, Price suggests using the stairs instead of elevators, and walking to appointments.

Hotel workouts. If your hotel has a gym, make use of it. Use the circuit machines for efficient weight training, and a bike or treadmill for cardiovascular work. If you’re used to spinning classes, for example, you don’t have to give them up during trips, says Bonne Marano, a fitness writer based in Leonia, N.J. To duplicate the varying patterns of spinning classes, “Bring along a Walkman and a cassette with several songs with differing tempos on it,” she suggests.

If the hotel facilities are inadequate, check with the concierge for the closest local gym. The hotel may even have a deal with a health club where guests can work out for free or at a greatly reduced fee. And don’t forget the hotel pool. In fact, you can do cardio and strength training in the water by using a product called AquaBells, says Marano. “The [AquaBells] plates are inflatable with water to four pounds each (and capable of holding four plates per assembly) so you can do modified weight lifting.” AquaBells can be found online at www.aquabells.com.

Outdoor workouts. If the weather’s nice and you feel safe in the area, take advantage of the local scenery. “If I’m in a new city, I make sure I take a walking tour of it,” says Price. Marano says she likes to visit local playgrounds for cardio and strength training, using the monkey bars for pull-ups and the track for a run or jog.

Finally, don’t let sore feet stop you from working out. Sore feet are a frequent (and valid!) complaint of trade-show attendees, but Marano says it’s no excuse for skipping a workout. Yoga, in-room strength training, a recumbent bike, and swimming are all forms of non-weight-bearing exercises.

A regularly exercised body can feel “not quite right” if it’s deprived of its accustomed workout. Just as you feel better when you stick to your dining routine while on the road, so too will you feel better if you maintain your exercise routine. As Marano points out, “You wouldn’t miss a meal, would you?”

Road tips. To make workouts easier and more fun while traveling, here are a few more tips from experts:

  • Bring quick-drying exercise clothes, such as those made of nylon.

  • If you’re used to having a workout partner at home, try to find a colleague who is also a gym-goer. You’ll both be more likely to stick to your program.

  • Lay out your workout clothes the night before. Don’t ask yourself if youwant to get some exercise, consider the decision already made.

  • If you can, work out at the same time of day that you would at home.