Exercise and Fitness while travelling for work, on the road or working in a Humanitarian Field Mission can be tough. Not because you are not committed to continue your healthy lifestyle, but simply because of limited choice and access. In this post we explore time, space and tools to keep your fitness levels up when working away — far away.
Exercise – Aerobic vs Anaerobic
Exercise is divided into two categories: aerobic and anaerobic. Essentially the difference relates to the use of oxygen.
Aerobic exercise temporarily increases your heart rate. You breathe more heavily, which is why it is also called cardiovascular exercise. In aerobic exercise you walk, run, bicycle or swim to build endurance, and the muscle movement uses oxygen to burn both carbohydrates and fats to in turn produce energy.
With anaerobic exercise you build muscle and physical strength by using short bursts of energy. Weight lifting, and sit-ups are examples of anaerobic exercise where the muscle movement burns carbohydrates to produce energy, but does not use oxygen to do so.
Exercise and Fitness Needs
To keep fit you need a fitness program that include both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. This is because aerobic exercise builds endurance, and anaerobic exercise builds strength. Since strength training often involves using muscles to work against the force of weights, it’s also known as resistance training.
To maintain fitness levels at an optimum you should ideally do aerobic exercise every day for a minimum of 30 minutes, and anaerobic training about three days a week. In travel mode this can be a challenge but where there is a will there is a way, right?
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Exercise to Go – Keeping Fit on the Road
When you are on the road in constant travel mode you can be squeezed for time – and space. It comes down to choice and access. If you choose to maintain your fitness levels, you need to create the access, by making the best you can of your time and space. I say – todays’ technology and luggage friendly tools has made it even easier. Check out some of my favourite ones below 🙂
Exercise – Time, Space and Tools
A tight schedule 24/7 is not unusual when you are in travel mode, and you often feel that you don’t even have time to breathe, let alone have any time for yourself. If you’re also in chronic jetlag mode keeping fit can add to the challenge. TIP: Read ‘How To Get The Job Done with Chronic Jet Lag‘
The trick is to tweak the schedule to fit in what makes you feel sane too. For me that is to move – at least twice a day in some form or other. Everyone can set the alarm to get up earlier, or choose not to swing a beer in the bar – in favour of 30 minutes of training. You can divide your exercise sessions into to morning, midday and evening. 10 minutes each is all it takes to keep a minimum level of fitness.
Space is a tricky issue. Hotel rooms are small, containers (if you live in a field setting) even smaller, and climate or safety may not be ideal for outdoor activities. You have to be creative, and use a few tools to accommodate the space issue. Actually you don’t need much to accomplish both aerobic and anaerobic exercise goals. Your own body weight, and access to an Apple.com iPad or Amazon.com Kindle will have you laughing all the way to your fitness bank. Space is what you make it — a hindrance or a challenge.
Travel involves careful choices of what to bring — or not. You can hardly bring along your 5 kg weights, or Pilates wheel – but you can bring great little helpers that work as excellent substitutes for your gym equipment. I do bring along one pair of cross trainers, and fitness outfits.
Here are some items that I have found helpful on longer travels / missions. If you have other helpful tips please comment and share!
Exercise – Top Tips
Don’t let the picture on the front of this book put you off.
It is an excellent read, with lots of super tips that only uses your own body weight. The introductory chapter takes you into the world of strength training in a new way, and really works in small spaces. Mark Lauren’s You Are Your Own Gym makes you realise that all you need is your own body, and lots of water to stay hydrated. Read it, memorize your session, and crank it up as you go. Works for men and women – and really improves your resistance training to a max level.
To keep your cardiovascular action going, I recommend a skipping rope for fitness.
You get back into childhood fun, and yet when done regularly and with real fitness purpose – Wow! It is great exercise, easy to carry and creates no additional suitcase issues. This one also comes with a great exercise guide for free which makes it even more fun.
Resistance bands are amazing fitness aids,
and can be hung from any door, tree or railing. They work your core into that six-pack wonder that you always wanted, and builds you up from top to toe. Resistance Bands really work through your whole body, and once you get the ‘hang’ of it, you will start preaching to your fellow travellers too – as this was a turnaround for me. They are so light-weight that they have become a constant travel companion. Are you converted yet? Try them – you will be!
For your flexibility, stamina, core and overall strength – Pilates is my go-to activity, and it is amazing how little space you actually need. Granted that you cannot travel around with a thick Pilates mat — but a towel on the floor works just as well. I have a new favourite here. By downloading free workout apps (POPSUGAR Active for example), you get new sessions every day. I also use PopSugar for weight programmes, and then take empty bottles and fill with water or sand. Pilates, toning, cardio, weights, top to toe workouts — you choose, press play and go.
Last – but definitely not least – use whatever opportunity you have to move. Take the stairs, walk whenever you can, and make a point of letting people know that you are an active person. That will have you making fitness minded friends – and two is always safer especially in new places.
Recommended and Related:
- Glossary of Exercise Terms – Harvard Health
- HIIT or Cardio – What Is Best For Your Fitness? – thegoodista.com
- Why Physical Activity is Important – Better Health Channel
- How much Exercise do you need? – NHS
- How To Get The Job Done With Chronic Jetlag – thegoodista.com
- Exercise Opportunities While Traveling – WikiHow
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