Traveling: Simple Workouts to Stay Fit on the Road (cont.)

Back in the U.S., there's a trend in the hospitality industry to upgrade fitness centers and pamper guests, says Lisa Ianucci, author of Healthy Travel, to be published in the spring.

Some hotels provide "fitness kits" for yoga, strength training, or Pilates. At Westin hotels, you can tune the TV to a yoga channel. "Some hotels, like Don Shula's Hotel in Florida, even have a fitness concierge who creates workshops and exercise classes for guests," says Ianucci.

Exercise in Your Room

In her book, Schlosberg presents some workouts you can do without any equipment in the space of a hotel room or guest bedroom. Here's an example:

"Stop telling yourself that you must devote an hour to exercise -- break it up into 10-minute intervals."

Warm up. Start with five minutes of light cardio exercise (try walking or jogging in place) to warm muscles and prevent injury.

Cardio exercise. Schlosberg advises doing 30 minutes of cardio exercise, which can be broken up into 10-minute bursts. Use your jump rope, or try this sequence, which you can repeat or augment with jogging in place (or in the hallway) or strength exercises:

  • Low-jump twists (20 to each side). With feet together and knees slightly bent, hop slightly and rotate your feet in one direction. On the next hop, rotate in the opposite direction. Keep your shoulders still.
  • Jumping jacks (20).
  • Wall jogs (1 minute). Stand about 2 feet from a wall and lean forward, placing your hands on the wall at shoulder height. Jog in place while you push against the wall. The higher you lift your knees, the tougher the workout.
  • Mountain climbers (25 with each foot). Place your hands on the floor or the edge of a desk or dresser. Start with your legs staggered, right foot in front of your left. Jump up and switch feet, bringing your left leg forward. Repeat, alternating feet.
  • Side shuffles (10). Using as much space as you have available, shuffle to the side, keeping your feet apart. Then reverse directions.

Strength training. When you can't get to the gym and don't have exercise tubes, do exercises that use your own body for resistance. And to save time, do multimuscle exercises, such as push-ups, which exercise your chest, triceps, and shoulders. A minimal workout would include:

  • Push-ups
  • Stomach crunches with an upper-body twist
  • Kneeling back leg extensions
  • One-legged lunges

Do one to three sets of each exercise, resting for 30-90 seconds between sets. Normally, eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise should work muscles to the point of fatigue, Schlosberg says, but without equipment it's difficult to adjust resistance. So a beginner's limit might be four reps for some exercises, while an experienced exerciser might need to do 20.

Cool down. Don't stop exercising abruptly. Keep moving at an easy pace for five minutes to bring your heart rate down.

Stretching. Stretching should be done after your muscles are warm. Do stretches that target your neck, shoulders, triceps, chest, upper back, hamstrings, hips, and calves. Stretch to the point of mild tension, not pain, and hold for 10-15 seconds.

How often should you do the workout? It's best to keep up your normal routine, but if that's not possible, do what you can.

"Even getting in one strength workout and two or three cardio workouts a week can make a big difference," says Schlosberg. "You'll be able to preserve most, if not all, of your fitness, and you'll have more energy for your travels. The key is to maintain your usual intensity level."

Overcome Obstacles, 10 Minutes at a Time

But what about your motivation, which seems to have been misplaced along with your luggage?

Time, stress, and fatigue are the main obstacles to exercising, says Kara I. Gallagher, PhD, assistant professor of exercise physiology at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.

"If you think you have time constraints, it can get bigger and bigger, and there's no amount of motivation to overcome that," says Gallagher, who is also a spokeswoman for the American College of Sports Medicine.

The best strategy, she says, is to stop telling yourself that you must devote an hour to exercise -- "break it up into 10-minute intervals" -- or that you must maintain the same routine you do at home.

As for stress, conquer it by recommitting to your goal.

"When you're not stressed, write down very specific reasons for exercising," says Gallagher. When you're just too tired, remind yourself that a little exercise will give you a boost.

"Psychologically, it also helps if you have a companion," says Gallagher. If you're traveling for business, find a co-worker who will go to the hotel gym or pool. If you're a houseguest, offer to walk your host's dog.

What Happens if You Slack Off?

OK, you had the best intentions, but you didn't manage to exercise at all during your trip. What will happen to your body?

If it's only been a week, don't worry, says Gallagher.

"Most changes in terms of aerobic fitness happen at about 12 days without activity," she says. "[The] body's ability to deliver oxygen efficiently goes down, and they'd find that doing the same exercise they'd been doing would leave them a lot more winded."

In terms of strength training, a decline begins after about two weeks.

"The magnitude of de-training is determined by how long they've been exercising," says Gallagher. "If they've been weight training for several years they'd see less difference than somebody who had just started."

Exercising Back Home

Now that you're home, work moves to the front burner, the dog can't see through the shaggy growth over his eyes, and, darn the luck, the kids' movie is still in the theaters.

"Your workload increases dramatically when you get back because of all the things you couldn't handle while you were away." Gallagher says. "You feel you don't have time to devote to exercise."

The problem is compounded if you got out of the exercise habit while you were on the road. "We know the more consistent and regular people are with behaviors, the more likely they are to stick with them," Gallagher says.