Exercising While on the Road

Advancements in technology have made our world smaller. Face-to-face meetings and handshakes have changed into texts, emails and FaceTime. Even with instant electronic access, sitting across the boardroom table still is the best way to communicate. Most of us have experienced the sedentary nature of travel for business or vacation. One day of skipped exercise is not the end of life, but choosing how to use our time is important when we arrive at our destination.

Exercise for travelers with high stress and unpredictable schedules should be designed to accommodate individuals who are short on time and don’t have access to a gym or equipment. When in the car for long hours, use the moment after filling the car or the rest stops to engage in some quick exercises.

Bodyweight calisthenics and exercises like squats, push-ups, crunches, burpees and squat-thrusts are easy choices, if some smooth ground is available, because they require no equipment. Performing these exercises at high intensity will give you the maximum benefit. For those who are not quite as fit, some simple stretches and walking around will help keep the blood flowing and reduce stiffness.

If you have time on the road, search out short hikes or activities that you can use along the way to take a break from driving and insert some physical activity. This is also a great way to see some of the local sights. Another idea is to plan a short half-hour walk during a meal break, or once you have reached your destination (so long as it is not too late…).

When seated for an extended time in the car you can perform isometric exercises by contracting muscles without a joint actually moving (like flexing). And, similar to bodyweight workouts, no equipment is required. Last year while traveling for the ACSM conference, I was able to perform crunches, chest, back and leg resistance training while flying at 30,000 feet above the ground.

Two isometric exercise examples are pressing the palms of your hands together as firmly as you can to engage your chest muscles or stretching your arms wide apart to target your back. Gluteal squeezes can help the low back during long drives or flights. Hold each isometric exercise for approximately ten seconds and breathe naturally. These minor exercises can be effective in reducing the effects of being sedentary.

Remaining creative with exercises and having a flexible attitude can provide the keys to getting a workout in while on the road. Seeking the perfect exercise session like you get when home might not be realistic.

While on traveling, keep realistic goals for exercise—a little is better than nothing. Sometimes a break from the routine can generate a new enjoyment for the simplicity of exercise again.

By Robert E. Booker, Jr. and Samuel D. Enright