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Fitness Tips for Travelers

By (view all posts by HSimas)
at 11:58AM Tuesday November 2, 2010
under Loose Change

I have a four day trip to New York coming up, and I am already dreading the wrench this will throw in my exercise routine. I know I am not the only one with this problem. Whether you are just getting into an exercise groove, attempting to lose weight, or one of those crazy people who exercises every day, travel can be a real fitness killer. Time changes, exhausting flights and a chock-full schedule can all conspire to rob you of valuable exercise time. Even if you manage to carve time out of your busy schedule, there are other challenges to face.

If your hotel has a 24-hour fitness room or a free usage deal with a local gym, you are of course all set. But if the hotel fitness room doesn't have hours that fit your needs (or is non-existent), if the hotel charges a fee to use the gym (a crime, in my book!), or if you are staying with friends or relatives with no exercise equipment to speak of, well then welcome to your new gym--your room!
Strength Training

Partaking of some muscle-building exercise in your hotel room is cheaper than cheap- it can be free! Squats, lunges, push-up and dips are some of the most effective strength training exercises, take very little room to do and require zero equipment. Jog in place in between sets and you've got yourself a circuit training program in your mini-suite! If you prefer strength training that doesn't involve your own body weight, resistance bands are very portable and won't take up much room in your suitcase. Prices vary widely, but you can currently get a set of five for as low as $19.99 on Amazon.

If you're buff enough that you think resistance bands are for kids (although I know a certain football player who might disagree with you), water weights are a nice, portable option for bulking up on the road. AquaBells is probably the best known name in water weights--they fold down to just about nothing, but provide up to 16lbs of resistance per dumbbell when you fill them with water. An AquaBells dumbbell/ankle weight set sells for about $85--which isn't cheap, but is well worth it if you are a frequent traveler and even more frequent exerciser.

Cardio

Getting some cardio is easy enough if you are in a safe, familiar area where you feel comfortable walking or jogging. But if you don't know the lay of the land, or if your company has a habit of putting you up in hotels with flashing red signs out front, you probably don't want to venture outside just to burn a few extra calories.

For those of you that can withstand high impact exercise, meet your new best friend: the jump rope. It's ultra-inexpensive, a total calorie torcher, and even the lightest packer can find room in the carry-on for it. Finding room in the hotel room is another story.  You've got to be careful--the jump rope is going to be the opposite of an economical option if the cost of a broken mirror or end table is tacked onto your hotel bill. I've found that even tiny rooms have a little foyer, which is where I attempt to jump rope. A balcony is good, too.

If you do plan on jump roping, be considerate of your fellow travelers and do it at a reasonable hour if you are not on the first floor. If your knees and other body parts prohibit you from high impact exercise, some marching in place is probably the best you can do for cardio in your limited space. Boring, yes. But better than nothing.

Other

Yoga, Pilates and Tae Bo (do people still do Tae Bo??) can all be done in the confines of your room. And now that many hotels feature DVD players, Billy Blanks and Rodney Yee can stay at the hotel with you. Ladies, insert your own inappropriate joke here. There's also a huge variety of workouts you can download on your iPod for the ultimate in portable exercise instruction.

Any other tips out there? What do you do to stay fit on the road?