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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work-Life Balance

Work Out on the Road: How to Squeeze in Fitness on a Business Trip

Whether you love traveling for work (seriously, when else do you get a free hotel room all to yourself?) or hate it, one thing’s for certain: Traveling wreaks havoc on your schedule.

This is especially true when it comes to your fitness routine—when you’re trying hard just to squeeze in emails between those all-day meetings and client dinners, it can be hard to find the time to work out. (Plus, who wants to give up that coveted leg room to stow a gym bag?)

The good news is, with a few key supplies and a bit of planning, you can easily bring your workout with you. Here’s your three-step plan for staying healthy on the road.

Pack the Right Tools

First things first: If you’re going to have any chance of exercising while you are traveling, you need to have the right tools with you. Here’s what I always make sure to bring:

  • Attire: Start by packing your exercise outfit. That’s right—you only need one. Choose lightweight workout clothes that will dry fast, hand wash them in the sink, and they’ll be dry by morning. Also pack your running shoes (though sometimes, when I am trying to squeeze everything into a carry-on for a short trip, I just skip the running shoes and plan to do a yoga or Pilates workout barefoot).
  • Yoga Mat: Pack a lightweight yoga mat that weighs just two pounds and folds into a small square. It takes up hardly any room in your suitcase, and I guarantee it will be more sanitary than a hotel room floor!
  • Resistance Band: You obviously don’t want to pack weights, but a resistance band will allow you to do an endless number of strength exercises. A band with handles in a resistance that will challenge you will give you the most variety.
  • Make a Plan

    Plotting out when you’ll actually fit in your workout (and what you’ll do) ahead of time is the key to making sure it happens. So, when you’re on the plane, take a few minutes to review your schedule and find time for your workout each day. Maybe you could hit the gym on a long lunch break between meetings, or, if you have a couple of days that are back-to-back, make time in the morning to go for a run before things get started. I encourage you to add it as an appointment in your calendar. 

    As far as what to do, there are more options than you might think while you are on the road. Check and see if your hotel has a fitness center or pool. (If not, you can always run the stairs—pretty much every hotel in America has a staircase!) If you’re a member of a large national chain gym, there might even be a location close to where you are staying. Or, if you’re a runner, try a scenic run and see some sights while you exercise!

    If you don’t have access to a gym or are crunched for time, you can still get a great workout in your hotel room. There are lots of online video-based programs that you can do with just the internet. My site, Tailored Fitness, helps you build a workout that is tailored to your goals, schedule, and preferences, just like you'd build an iTunes playlist. Some of my other favorites are StreamFit, The Daily HIIT, and My Yoga Online.

    Be Active

    If you feel like your daily workouts aren’t quite enough to counteract all that sitting you’re doing, try to incorporate extra activity in other ways.

    For example, walk as much as you can: Rather than sitting and waiting for your plane to board, walk back and forth through the airport. On breaks or after your workday, explore the area surrounding your hotel on foot. And unless you are lugging your suitcase, try to take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator whenever possible.

    A great way to track your activity and keep yourself motivated is to wear a pedometer or other activity tracking device, like Fitbit or Nike Fuel Band. Set a goal to reach 10,000 steps each day.


    That’s it, a three-step plan to help you stay fit on the road. Just like any exercise routine, it will take some planning ahead and discipline, but keep the benefits in mind. Staying active will help you combat jet lag and feel better throughout your trip.  Plus, when you arrive home, you won’t have missed a beat in your fitness routine.

    Want to plan your workouts on the road? Try a free 30-day trial of Tailored Fitness. Sign up now or try a free workout (by clicking the link you agree to our Terms of Use).

    Photo of woman on treadmill courtesy of Shutterstock.

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