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Don’t take vacation from healthy living

Does your exercise program get put on hold when you travel? Do you forget about working out until you get home? In order for exercise to become a habit, you must stay consistent. That can be tough to do when traveling, but with a little planning it can be done. Whether you’re out of town overnight for a business meeting, or on a weeklong vacation at the beach, you can still maintain your current level of fitness.

On my recent trip to Las Vegas for the American College of Sports Medicine Summit it was a little easier than most trips, since part of the conference involved a variety of exercise classes. Without such conveniences, you will need to map out a workout plan prior to your trip to help maintain your fitness level when you travel. Here are some tips that will help you stay on track when you’re on the road.

PLAN AHEAD

If you’re staying in a hotel, call or visit their website to check what type of fitness facilities are available. Knowing the type of equipment or facilities in advance allows you to pre-plan your workouts and maximize your time. Schedule your workout time into your days prior to reaching your destination. If you wait until you get there, you probably will never find the opportunity to make time for yourself.

Some hotels have agreements with local health clubs that allow you to use the facilities for a discounted guest rate. The health club you belong to might also be part of a national reciprocal program, such as IHRSA (International Health and Racquet Club Association) with participating clubs nationwide. A listing of these clubs can be found at www.healthclubs.com.

BE CREATIVE

If there are no fitness facilities available, you can get creative and find alternative ways to stay active. Depending on where your travels take you, embrace your surroundings and take advantage of what you have. Most hotels have swimming pools you can use to take a few laps or if you are near the beach, take a walk by the ocean. Use the stairs instead of the elevator to your room. Create a simple but effective workout in your room with calisthenics and bodyweight exercise such as pushups, squats, lunges and abdominal crunches. If done in a circuit fashion with little to no rest between exercises you can get some benefits of both aerobic and strength conditioning.

PACK APPROPRIATELY

Be sure to wear comfortable clothes no matter how you’re traveling. If you’re flying, pack walking shoes in your carry-on luggage so you can take a brisk walk around the airport between flights. Pack some workout clothes and consider packing a workout kit, consisting of light weight items such as exercise tubing for resistance training and a jump rope for a cardiovascular workout.

EAT HEALTHY

Try to eat at the same intervals you’re accustomed to at home. By not getting overly hungry, you will be less likely to make poor choices. You can’t expect to visit a new exciting place and not sample the local cuisine but don’t go overboard when eating out. Plan to splurge a little but try to balance high-calorie meals with lighter, healthier meals and stay as active as possible. Consider walking to nearby restaurants rather than dining in the hotel. Avoid the room mini-fridge temptations and pick up some healthy items at a local grocery store. Pack pre-made portioned snacks such as almonds, raisins, whole-wheat crackers, precut vegetables and fruit to keep in your room. Drink water frequently to keep muscles well hydrated.

MAINTAIN

Your goal during trips should be to maintain your current fitness level. You don’t need to exercise every day or for extended times. But when you do exercise, do it at the same intensity to which you are accustomed. It helps if you schedule blocks of time for exercise, even if it’s 10 to 15 minutes two to three times a day during breaks between meetings.

With just a little bit of planning and commitment, you can make daily exercise a part of your travel schedule and won’t return home feeling overweight, out of shape, and unmotivated. You’ll find the physical and stress-reduction benefits are well worth the small effort.

Perry Buchanan, owner of PT Gym, is certified as Health Fitness Specialist through the American College of Sports Medicine and has been in the fitness industry for over 30 years.