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Travel Tips For People Trying To Stay Fit

And that’s not great news if you’ve got a workout schedule you’re hoping to keep. But traveling doesn’t have to leave you feeling like a cast member from the Walking Dead. Learn some tips and tricks to keep you feeling good, despite having to share the stale air of your too-close-for-comfort row mates, and help you make the most of your post-flight workout.

Struggle with maintaining fitness goals while traveling? Here are some tips that are sure to help.

BYOB (BRING YOUR OWN BOTTLE)

Not only is the running between gates sure to leave you a little parched, but the cabin air at 30,000 feet isn’t going to do you any favors either. Being at such high altitudes causes water to evaporate from your skin more quickly than normal. In order to keep your fluids balanced you really need to be able to replenish during your flight. And no, those little cups from the beverage service probably aren’t going to cut it.

Being at such high altitudes causes water to evaporate from your skin more quickly than normal

Dehydration is not a great state be in any time, but it can be especially detrimental when you’re hoping to fit a workout in. Water loss means your ability to perform endurance or high intensity trainings can be diminished by as much as 45%! 1 But you can help combat the water loss by bringing your own water bottle along for the ride. Make sure to leave your bottle empty until you pass through TSA, unless thorough pat downs are your thing, and fill up at your gate before boarding. Take a pass on the in-flight sodas and booze, which will only increase your risk of being dehydrated. Drink at least 1 quart of water for every 4 hours of flying time to keep your body hydrated and to flush out toxins from that recycled cabin air.

EAT UP

You don't have to eat overpriced airport snacks and what some would call "food". Take an hour or 2 and prepare a few meals to tide you over.

You already know how important fueling up is for your workouts, but fueling on the go can be a little bit tricky. Many before you have been tempted to throw caution to the wind in favor of the convenience that rests just behind those bright neon lights. But if the huge airport markups aren’t enough to scare you off (seriously, those prices are no joke!), your physical well-being after your flight should definitely be considered. As easy as it would be to jump in line at the closest fast food joint near your gate, loading up on greasy eats is not going to give you that get-up-and-go feeling you’re going to need to hit the gym on arrival. Those fried, fatty foods are hard for your body to digest and can cause cramping, bloating, and diarrhea. 2 Hardly what you’re going to want to deal with if you hope to leave your hotel room to do anything that requires even the slightest amount of physical exertion.

Fortunately you don’t have to rely on the airport for your dietary needs. This step does require a little pre-flight planning, but it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. While you’re making sure you have plenty of clean undies for your trip just throw in some healthy snacks. You want them to be easy and as mess-free as possible.3 Some great options to pack are:

  • Protein Bars
  • Fresh Fruit (apples, bananas, grapes)
  • Nuts
  • Jerky
  • Sandwiches. Keep the fillings simple here so you don’t create a disaster on board, some turkey or a pb&j will work great.
  • Chopped veggies and hummus
  • Protein powder. Pre-measure into zip lock bags and label to avoid any confusion.
  • Trail mix. Make your own with almonds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, and dark chocolate pieces.
Is it even possible to travel without getting stressed out? It's hard, but do your best to relax as much as possible.
Try to relax and chill on your flight...But maybe not this much.

RELAX

Is it even possible to travel without getting stressed out? True, the getting to and from your destination can be a little bit nerve-wracking. There are so many things that can go wrong: gate changes, flight delays, and luggage sent to who knows where. But there is only so much you can do during your travels before you just have to sit back and try to enjoy the ride and whatever comes with it. You’re going to be no good to anyone if you turn into a basket case as a result of your travels. So try to relax as much as possible. Your post-flight workout may be able to zap away some of that stress you accumulated in air, but that same stress can actually hinder your upcoming workout and throw a wrench in your fitness goals.4

You can do your best to make sure your trip is smooth sailing by planning things out as best you can and making sure you have a handle on everything that you can. Great tips to reduce the stress:

  • Start packing a few days in advance so that you’re not scrambling the night before.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Check in for your flight the day before if possible and arrive at the airport early.
  • Give yourself plenty of time at the gate so that you can visit the bathroom and fill up your water bottle before boarding starts.
  • Bring noise cancelling headphones, calming music, and a good book.
  • If you can, choose an aisle or window seat so that you aren’t so squished.

MOVE YOUR BODY

Flying is like paying someone to let you sit in a sardine can. And spoiler alert: You’re the sardine. Those seats are small and packed tight, and if you have an overly friendly neighbor that doesn’t seem to know what personal space means, you may be in for an ever tighter squeeze than normal. All that cramped seating is bound to leave you feeling a little, well… cramped. Your body isn’t meant to be squished into such a compact position for long and that can leave you with muscle soreness and strain.

Your options for on board activity are obviously a little limited, but you can still try to get some movement in before and during your flight. If you arrive at the airport early enough, don’t just plop down and wait for your boarding call. Walk around, race down those moving walkways, window shop at the Hudson News. Do anything to get that blood flowing before it’s time to take your seat. And if you’re in for a long flight, get up and walk up and down the aisle a few times each hour if possible. Just make sure that seat belt sign is off. Once you deplane give your body a good stretch. A great rule of thumb is to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds 5: hold a position for about 20 seconds and then deepen the stretch for another 10 seconds to really loosen up those rigid muscles.

TO GYM OR NOT?

Still up for the gym after that flight? Great! But don’t feel too bad if after all you’re best efforts you still feel like you need to take a breather. Listen to your body. If you are feeling good to go, there’s no reason why you can’t go get your sweat on. But if you’re just not feeling quite up to par, it’s to skip or at the very least take it a little easier during this workout.

Listen to your body. Do you need to relax after a flight or would a workout make you feel better?

Even if you tried all the best flying tips and still can’t garner up the energy to hit the gym, you still made your travels a much healthier, less stressful, and all around better experience. And that is definitely something to be proud of. Better to take it slow or take a rest day than to risk an injury that could potentially keep you out of the gym for much longer. So whether you decide to dominate that workout or take some needed R&R time, either way feel good knowing you gave it your best shot.

Here's hoping for your next flight is a smooth one!
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Erin Dyer
Erin Dyer is a freelance writer for dietary supplements and proper health & nutrition. She is also a massage therapist, focusing primarily on sports injuries & deep tissue massage. She currently resides in Pleasant Grove, Utah and when she isn't writing or hitting the gym at 5am, she's chasing after her two sons.

REFERENCES

  1. Asker Jeukendrup, Michael Gleeson. Dehydration and its effects on performance Sport Nutrition 2nd Ed. 2010.
  2. John A. Phillips. Eating For Exercise: The 5 Worst Ways to Fuel Up Pre-Workout Mensfitness.com.
  3. Kate H. Knapp. 10 tasty snacks you can bring on the plane SmarterTravel.com. 2015
  4. Cindy Kuzma. 5 Surprising Ways Stress Messes With Your Workout Shape.com. 2014
  5. Matt Shaffer. How Long Should You Really Hold A Stretch? Fitness, Workout of the month. 2015

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