On Traveling & Exercise
vive ut vivas
Beauty varies with the time of life. In a young man beauty is the possession of a body fit to endure the exertion of running and of contests of strength; which means that he is pleasant to look at; and therefore all-round athletes are the most beautiful, being naturally adapted both for contests of strength and for speed also. For a man in his prime, beauty is fitness for the exertion of warfare, together with a pleasant but at the same time formidable appearance. For an old man, it is to be strong enough for such exertion as is necessary, and to be free from all those deformities of old age which cause pain to others. Strength is the power of moving some one else at will; to do this, you must either pull, push, lift, pin, or grip him; thus you must be strong in all of those ways or at least in some. - Aristotle.
Routine is of the essence when it comes to meeting fitness goals, but unfortunately for many travelers, maintaining any sense of routine often becomes a goal in and of itself. The key to staying in shape while traveling is having go-to workouts in ones repertoire that require very little space and equipment, allowing one to get some exercise in no matter where one is.
Sometimes in travel one gets into spurts where one pushes oneself to the limits of ones physical prowess daily, as one hikes up mountains, swim in lakes, kayaks, and walks across entire cities; and sometimes one finds that one is lazy as a slug, as one spends entire days just sitting on buses, trains, airplanes, sleeping in hotels, over eating, and drinking to excess.
Sometimes in the life of the modern human, one’s energy output does not equal ones caloric input; sometimes in traveling, one finds that one just wants to exercise. Traveling brings about a renewed energy to many that elicits not only added vigor for exploration, but added enthusiasm to exercise. One should tap into this frequency and exercise no matter ones surroundings.
Even the most health-conscious person sometimes struggles to balance professional and social commitments with a regular exercise regimen. The bottom line is this: the healthier one is, the more productive one will be; the fitter one becomes, the fewer days one will miss, the less susceptible to stress one will be, and the better one will sleep.
So, how does one make time for a workout when one is at a desk before a foreign market opens or leaving a dinner in Barcelona after the gym closes? By following a time-efficient, flexible routine that can be done at any time of day - no equipment, no gym membership and no weight room necessary. All one needs is a stairwell and some gumption, which should not be a problem for people who routinely push themselves at work, in the gym, or playing with their children.
Ones body is the equipment, the stairs are the cardiovascular machines and each landing in the stairwell is the weight room. Oh, and one will want some extra clothes and access to a shower later. This is definitely not a regimen meant for a business suit.
The program is simple: Climb a flight of stairs. Perform an exercise on the landing. Take the next flight up. Do another exercise. And so on. On the road and don't have access to a stairwell? Skip the stairs and do the same exercises in the hotel room by skipping in place or doing mountain climbers.
Try the following sequence of exercises, each targeting multiple muscles and joints; the first in each set focuses on the upper body, the second on the lower body and the third on core muscles.
Push-ups: as many as one can get with proper form.
Split squats: Put one foot forward, one foot back, splitting the legs broadly enough so that when the back knee is lowered toward the floor, the front knee is directly over the front heel; do ten to twenty on one leg, then switch legs and repeat.
Bicycle sit-ups: Lying on ones back with the legs moving in a bicycle motion, first move one elbow to the opposite knee, then the other elbow to the opposite knee; do as many as one can in 60 seconds.
One-arm fliers: Begin in a push-up position and slowly raise one straight arm away from the body while keeping the shoulders and hips square to the floor; slowly return the arm to the start position, then raise the other arm in the same fashion; do ten to twenty on each side.
Mountain climbers: Begin in a push-up position, pumping each leg forward and backward like running in place; do fifteen to thirty on each leg.
V-ups: Lying on ones back, raise one straight leg to maximum height while simultaneously reaching to the leg with both arms; lower the leg and arms, then raise the opposite leg and both arms again; repeat as many times as possible in 60 seconds.
Squat thrusts: Begin standing, drop to the floor, kick both legs back, do a push-up, pull the legs in, stand up and jump; perform as many as possible in 30 seconds.
Wall sits: Sit against the wall with the knees bent slightly above 90 degrees for 60 seconds.
Double crunch: This is a modified sit-up in which one simultaneously raises the upper body while bringing the knees back toward the head; max reps in 30 seconds.
Pull-ups or flexed arm hang.
Glute Bridge: Lying on ones back with feet tucked in, drive heels into ground while elevating hips towards the ceiling. Do as many reps as possible in 60 seconds.
Co-contractions: Begin in a seated position on the floor with ones hands beside ones hips and one legs straight in front; with the left heel down and the left knee in a slightly bent position, elevate the hips while simultaneously lifting the right leg off the floor; maintain this position, with ones weight on ones hands and left heel, for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat on the right side.
Bridge, a.k.a. the plank: Lie facedown on the floor, supporting oneself on ones forearms and toes, raising the hips to roughly the height of the shoulder blades; hold this position for 60 seconds.
Listen to ones instincts and adapt accordingly. Certain movements may need to be modified or eliminated.
Some tips before one starts:
Get a physical. Life is full of stress, too little sleep, insufficient exercise and poor eating habits. These are the ingredients for physical overload, so ease into these workouts and pay attention to how ones body responds (fatigue, soreness, etc.).
Start by walking from landing to landing; with greater fitness, alternate running to one landing and walking to the next; then run them all; when one time up the stairs is no longer challenging, add a second ascent, then a third.
Add exercises as conditioning improves. And work to increase ones reps as well as the duration at each station.
Wear a heart rate monitor. Use 220 minus ones age to determine maximum heart rate. Start at about 65 percent of maximum, and with greater fitness push toward 85 percent of heart rate max.
Once one has settled into a routine, set the exercises and the number of repetitions or duration of each one. Time oneself to the top of the stairs and use that time as a baseline to assess fitness level as one progresses.
Get a little competition going with some friends and colleagues.
If one is willing to buy some equipment at minimal cost, pick up a stability ball to add sit-ups, back extensions, push-ups and other exercises; a few pairs of dumbbells to add some free-weight exercises; and maybe a jump rope. And consider consulting a competent personal trainer. Then one can get creatively brutal in adding exercises and tailoring this routine to conditioning levels.
By exercise. I'll tell you one thing, you don't always have to be on the go. I sit around a lot, I read a lot, and I do watch television. But I also work out for two hours every day of my life, even when I'm on the road. - Jack LaLanne
Further tips for the exercise-challenged:
If one commutes to work or school, then really commute. Try walking, jogging, cycling or in-line skating.
Entertaining clients or friends? If golfing, walk the course -- if the place allows it. Better yet, meet your clients or friends on the court for squash, tennis or racquetball.
When traveling, check out the health clubs around where one is staying or pick a hotel with a nice fitness center.
If one has time map out the surrounding area for the healthiest eats and other fitness related activities to maximize ones time in the area. If one has the time to eat badly, one has the time to eat healthfully.
Above is just a sample of the exercise and tips one can do when traveling. Sometimes one will exercise more than others, sometimes one will not do all of these exercises, and sometimes one will do more. The point is to stay consistent and develop a fitness routine no matter the time or location.
One can usually do each exercise tree to four times, alternating between exercises in a cycle. Traveling is no excuse for giving up the exercise routine that one has at home. One can find ways to do almost any exercise while in travel. Its comes down to preparation, will and execution.
Exercise has been proven to lessen fatigue, burn fat, build muscle, create cardiovascular endurance, and strengthen joints, ligaments and tendons. It also releases endorphins in the brain which helps alleviate pain and stress as well as dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin which stabilizes mood and gives one feelings of pleasure.
A study done by Harvard school of public health found that exercising for as little as 15 minutes a day can help cure depression by 26% and that mild to moderate exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication. Exercise also helps in relieving stress, anxiety and depression.
The positive benefits exercise has on the body and the mind are endless, and for travelers who have to deal with constant stress, anxiety and fatigue, it could drastically improve health as well as the experiences in the cities one visits. Next time one is going on a trip, make sure to plan ahead, pack workout clothes and exercise. Ones body and your mind will be thankful. Health is wealth.