If you travel a lot, a regular workout routine can help you in a lot of ways. You'll have more endurance and energy. This helps on the long treks through airports and waiting in lines at TSA or at the counters and gates. You also will be better prepared for periods of sitting on buses, trains or planes.
Regular workouts help normalize body functions and can ensure you sleep better and rebound from time zone changes more efficiently. Plus, a fitness and wellness regimen can help you stick to healthy eating plans even when you're tempted by goodies and enticed to overindulge during your trips.
I've been preaching these benefits for years now. But this post is for everyone, even those who don't tend to make working out a priority. Even if you don't follow a strict workout regimen, you can still reap some great rewards from several simple exercises and practices to help you travel better.
For example, one simple trick to feel much better when traveling on a plane, bus or train is to get up and simply stretch your legs and torso a little to get the blood flowing. Long periods of sitting not only causes discomfort, it can lead to cramping. Go for a short stroll, stretch or try a wellness supplement if you experience leg cramps.
Plus, a few simple gym moves will keep you in prime condition to take on other common travel challenges. Here is an easy guide for some simple exercises and how they can help you in your travels. Consider working these moves into your routine at least one a week. It can take less than 15 minutes to do them all and will prove especially helpful if you travel regularly for either business or pleasure.
This is probably the most basic function that I see people struggling with during my travels. Of course, we all know how to sit down and stand up, right? But most of the time, we get lazy and just plop down into the seat (they seem more like crash landings on your butt and back).
Then, when you get up, you grab the back of the seat in front of you to help hoist yourself, perhaps grabbing the hair of the passenger in front of you -- or at the very least giving him or her seat an unwelcome jostle (think about if it was you and you were sleeping).
You can do better with good form and with stronger legs and a core.
The Exercise: Bodyweight Squats
Do two to three sets of 10 to 12 squats to strengthen your form and simulate getting into and out of a chair or seat (photos above). You can use the bench or chair as a guide or do the squats without and try to get to at least a 90 degree angle with your squat depth.
This is probably the most challenging task a traveler can face, especially if you are shorter and hauling a heavy carry-on suitcase or roller bag. You know very well that it's a two-part chore to stuff a bag into the often-cramped overhead bin. You have to twist yourself in the narrow airplane aisle to pick up your bag before hoisting it up into its resting space.
The Exercises: Overhead Press and Low-to-High Woodchop
Use dumbbells or an exercise band to strengthen your shoulders and upper back with the overhead pressing motion (top photo series). To build flexibility and strength for lifting the luggage from the ground, use a strict motion and torso twist with the band, working low to high (bottom photo series). Do a couple sets of 10 to 12 reps of each move.
New designs for suitcases make it easier for you to get around the airport and other spots in your travels. Roller luggage has been a revelation. Even so, some major airports are massive, and your forearms, biceps, wrists and fingers still can feel the effects of pulling and pushing your suitcases along seemingly endless corridors and up and down ramps as you travel between gates. Those of you who are still carrying your bags and duffels, you'll really appreciate this exercise.
The Exercise: Farmer's Walk
Grab a set of dumbbells of moderate weight (easy to hold, but you can definitely feel the weight) and walk with them for as long as you can before setting them down. Do two sets of this, holding the weights with arms extended at your sides as you walk.
The following movement helps you maintain strength and form for picking up your luggage and for keeping great posture and building enough strength and endurance if you also travel with a backpack.
The Exercise: Bent-Over Rows
Use dumbbells or an elastic band with a bent-over posture. Row the arms back and contract your shoulder blades at the top of the repetition. Do two sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Another seemingly mundane daily routine that we all know how to do. But it becomes more challenging when you are handling luggage and in unfamiliar buildings or on those shaky mobile jetway staircases that get rolled up for entry and exiting small planes.
The Exercise: Step Ups or Lunges
To build up further strength in your legs and confidence in your balance, try lunges or step ups. Alternate legs as you go, and do three sets of 10 to 15 reps of lunges (don't let the drop knee hit the ground), or 8 to 12 reps of step ups using a bench or similar stable elevated surface.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for reading, and as always: Travel fit, travel happy and travel often,