Living Fit

Ways to keep in shape while you travel

Sure, you're leaving your treadmill behind ­- but you can still stay fit away from home. Here are easy ways to keep in shape on the road:

Loosen Up Along The Way

Getting there can be part of your fitness routine. A popular 43-minute audio tape offers breathing exercises, simple warm-up stretches (like shoulder shrugs and rolls), and a closing relaxation series. "Be mindful of the person next to you! You need room to contract and release, walk in place, flex and point. The seated postures are a matter of degree," says Carol Dickman, who created "In-Flight Yoga" specifically for narrow airplane seats. Pack a small tape recorder to play it.

Upon arrival, you can listen to or watch the 35-minute "Bed-Top Yoga." Its breathing exercises, warm-up stretches and relaxation can be done lying down. "This tape can also help travelers solve the problems they often have with jet-lag or falling asleep in a strange place," notes the certified yoga instructor.

Know Your Options

Find out if the hotel has a health club or pool. "Always take advantage of a pool-swimming is excellent aerobic exercise: non-impact but a good work-out because water is resistant," stresses Joan Welsch, certified fitness trainer. Skip the sauna right afterwards, though: with a heart rate elevated by a swim, a hot sauna could even cause a stroke.

If your hotel doesn't have fitness facilities, can they direct you to a local gym or health club? "They'll sometimes offer a one-day pass or discount coupon," Welsch finds. Look for a low-impact aerobics class. Ask about a walking or running track nearby-or create your own. Many hotels are large enough that you can walk a mile along their hallways or outdoor pathways. If the weather is bad, find an indoor mall.

Exercise In Your Room

Welsch has good news-if your regular routine includes squats and stretches, you can easily do them on the road. To make your hotel room a mini-fitness center:

  • bring lightweight stretch bands, for bicep and tricep curls or extensions. They're available at higher-end sporting goods stores, or at the pro shops of fitness centers. Choose the band tension that matches your work-out level.

  • pack compact nylon ropes, for stretching ­ they're especially effective for hamstrings and quadriceps, says Welsch.

    [ NOTE: for exercises with ropes or stretch bands, be sure to have a trainer or someone at your gym show you the proper way to use them, before your trip.]

  • tie a nylon double loop (SportBand Door Attachment) to a dresser or doorknob, to stretch, tone and strengthen. For lateral pulldowns, hang the loop over a sturdy overhead pole, like a closet or shower rod, "after you check the strength of the rod," Welsch cautions.

  • borrow one-pound soup cans for your work-out when visiting relatives or staying at a bed-and-breakfast, if you normally use very light weights.

  • create your own Stairmaster. "Step straight up, with your upper body straight, using your thigh and gluteal muscles. Do as many flights as you can without exhausting yourself. This is an aerobic workout, with regular breathing and a slightly accelerated heart rate," says Welsch.

Outside your room, make fitness-oriented choices. Take the stairs instead of the escalator; decline the golf cart so you can walk the fairways. If your flight's delayed, stride briskly around the airport instead of sitting still. (One fitness buff jogged three miles through the long terminals of Dulles Airport during a two-hour layover.)

What Kind Of Trip Is It?

Business travel often means sitting through lengthy meetings, which may even include meals served at the same site. Be sure to get up and move as much as possible before, during and after each meeting. It's vital to make time to stretch and to burn some calories, on any business trip.

But vacations are different, observes Welsch ­ you may get far more exercise than you think from constantly walking around while sightseeing. Consider how much more you actually need to work out each day, she advises clients.

Whether you travel for business or pleasure, stay loose, get some exercise ­- and have a good trip!

Carol Milano

Resource: To order the yoga tapes, call 1-888-937-9642 or visit for more information.


  • At the airport, check your bags and take a brisk walk.

  • On the plane, walk up and down the aisles. In your seat, do progressive muscles stretches. Reach for the fan or the reading light as an excuse to stretch.

  • Bring along sneakers and workout wear for the hotel fitness center. Take advantage of a trainer on staff. Don't forget a swimsuit for the pool.

  • While sightseeing, step up the pace to burn calories. Get off the bus and explore.

  • If you're traveling for business, don't forget to stretch when there's a meeting break.

Many of these articles appear on the publication's website, which are often password-protected or members-only. For your convenience, I've gathered them on my own website.