How to Stay Fit While Traveling for Business
The lifestyle of business travel can be glamorous. Seeing different cities, flying business class and staying in luxurious hotels can make for great Instagram material.
But research has shown that frequent travelers have a higher body mass index, higher blood pressure and are generally in worse shape than light leisure travelers. So, while you're enjoying the jet set lifestyle, you might be doing some serious damage to your body.
Frequent business travelers cite a lack of time and motivation to exercise as the No. 1 reason they skip workouts while traveling. Combine this with, often, a poor diet and increased alcohol intake, and you have a health crisis in the making.
There are ways to combat this issue, of course. The next time you're on the road for work, try these three methods for staying active and fit on the go. Even if only one strategy sticks, you'll be laying an important foundation for healthy habits in the new year.
Spend 20 Minutes at the Hotel Gym
Most people aren't using the hotel gym, no matter how nice it is. A recent survey from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration showed that only 22% of guests used the fitness center during their stay, despite good intentions (46% said they planned to work out).
From an investment perspective, hotels are losing money on their fancy gyms, but that hasn't stopped them from building fitness centers with gorgeous views and more workout options. Many hotel gyms have way more than treadmills and dumbbells now. It's common to find a hotel fitness center fully equipped with heavy weights (including barbells and squat racks); functional equipment such as kettlebells, gymnastics rings and battle ropes; and a complete line-up of fitness classes.
If you have any say in the hotel you stay at, be sure to choose one with a decent gym. And then use it. Commit to working out in the hotel gym at least every other day. You don't have to spend two hours in the gym: 20 to 30 minutes is more than enough time if you’re putting in maximum effort and keeping the intensity up.
This can best be accomplished with high intensity interval training (HIIT), metabolic conditioning workouts and bodyweight exercise training.
Develop a Bodyweight Workout
Great workouts don't actually require any equipment. Even if you were counting on using the hotel gym, it could be closed for renovations, or you might get moved to a hotel without a fitness center. That's why you should always have a backup plan for working out while traveling: a routine using only bodyweight exercises.
The great thing about bodyweight exercises, aside from the fact that they're incredibly effective, is that you can do them in your hotel room or anywhere else you choose, zero equipment required.
Keep workouts short and minimal. Maximize your time by performing high-intensity bodyweight circuits designed to help you build muscle; burn more calories; improve stability and flexibility; and get better results in less time.
HIIT is one of the best and most time-efficient ways to lose weight. It's simple, too: just short periods of all-out work followed by short periods of rest.
Select a few workouts and complete them in a circuit, where you cycle through several exercises (usually five to 10) targeting different muscle groups with minimal rest in between.
Remember, exercises like push-ups, squats and burpees can be done anywhere, though pull-ups — which are a great bodyweight exercise — may require some creativity. (Strong tree limbs can work in a pinch.) If you can't find anything to do a pull-up on, try one-arm rows with your suitcase instead.
Try Intermittent Fasting
This might be the best weight loss strategy for business travelers for two reasons. The first is that its simplicity makes it easy for anyone to give it a try. The second is that its basic component is not eating, which is perfect for someone who is already busy with a hectic schedule.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a term for an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. For example, you already fast between your last meal at night and your first one the next day. The time between those meals is your fasting period. Now consider extending that window to make it more effective for fat burning. If you skip breakfast and maybe even lunch the next day, you can now extend your fat burning window to 16 or even 24 hours. This length of time is considered optimal for intermittent fasting.
Research shows that the benefits of intermittent fasting go far beyond fat loss. With no blood sugar spikes and crashes, many intermittent fasters report feeling more sharp at work. As a result, it's also been tied to diabetes prevention.
The Bottom Line
In addition to utilizing the hotel gym, developing a reliable bodyweight workout and practicing intermittent fasting, there are other steps business travelers can take toward maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Don't forget to pack healthy snacks in your carry-on so you can make smart choices on the road (think: nuts; fruit and vegetable chips; and baby carrots). And keeping health and fitness apps loaded on your phone can help you stay on track, no matter where on Earth your travels take you.