Words by Renae Spinks
For many of us, staying fit isn’t easy at the best of times, but when you’re on the road, with back-to-back meetings from morning ’til night and can’t hit the hotel gym, what’s a business traveller to do?
Never fear, there are plenty of ways to sneak short bursts of physical activity into your trip to release stress and stop those muscles from stiffening up. Here are some ideas.
Got four minutes? Of course you do. The Tabata method of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) – where you do 20-second bursts of exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest over four minutes – has become popular in recent years. It’s based on a 1996 study by Professor Izumi Tabata with Olympic athletes. Whether or not you can achieve Olympian results remains to be seen. But you can surely lift your heart rate. Exercises might include jumping jacks, squat thrusts, burpees, high knees and push ups. Ready, set, go!
Picture: Getty Images
Remember that thrill you had as a kid when you finally figured out how to jump rope? Well here’s some thrilling news: pack your skipping rope in your suitcase and you can burn calories in a flash, improve co-ordination, support your heart, and strengthen your upper and lower body. Just five minutes a day is reportedly enough to ward off osteoporosis. Of course, you’ll need a hotel room with a bit of space, or head outside to the nearest park. You’ll be doing double-unders in no time.
Dance like no one’s watching – in your hotel room. Crank up your favourite tune and break a sweat with some high-octane dance moves. Got no moves? A while back US First Lady Michelle Obama and singer Beyonce teamed up to create a dance routine for the Let’s Move campaign against childhood obesity. But hey, it works for grown-ups, too, so pull it up on your phone and dance along. And dancing is good for the heart, lungs, muscles, endurance and aerobic fitness. Time to shake your booty!
More fitness inspiraton:
As You Go
Before you recoil in horror at the thought of the dreaded pedometer, you don’t need to count the number of steps – you just have to take them. That means taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalator. Step away from the travelator at the airport and walk the length of the terminal. If you’re in the air, pace the length of the plane – the other passengers won’t mind (much); on the ground, pace your hotel’s halls. Walk to your next meeting – or better yet, make it a walking meeting in the park and get a dose of nature, too.
Picture: Getty Images
Our sedentary lifestyle affects our metabolic system, and sitting all day has been related to a cascade of ill effects from obesity to heart disease. That’s something to think about while you’re sitting on a long-haul flight. The solution is simple. Stand more. Stand while you’re on the phone, stand when you’re at your computer. Stand on public transport (people will think you’re gallant). Just stand. That is all.
If you must sit, become a fidgeter. A study last year found that high-level fidgeting – toe-tapping, pen-clicking and the like – may counteract the ill effects of sitting. It’s only a suggested link at this stage, but it’s worth a try. And my MovNat instructor is a chronic fidgeter – stretching his hands, rolling his ankles while talking to you. It’s all about maintaining flexibility into later life. (MovNat is a fitness system fundamentally about movement and maintaining the full range of natural human movement abilities.)
Good morning, Sunshine
Get yourself to a yoga class before you go, and learn how to do some Sun Salutes (Surya Namaskar). This quick sequence of 12 postures done first thing in the morning can improve circulation, benefit the heart, liver, intestine, stomach, chest, throat, legs and more. It’s even said to expand the solar plexus and develop intuition. If that’s not enough, some airports offer yoga classes, so you stretch during long layovers. Last month, Vancouver Airport introduced free yoga Fridays, offering a space for people to do self-guided yoga practice.
In-flight workout anywhere
Qantas has produced a helpful in-flight workout to stretch and move muscle groups that may become stiff after long periods of sitting. The airline recommends you do them for three to four minutes every hour on the plane. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also do them in your hotel room, or even in a meeting, if you’re subtle. They include ankle circles, foot pumps, knee lifts, neck rolls, knee-to-chest raises, and forward bends.