Staying Fit When You Travel

It is easy to come up with excuses not to exercise or eat clean. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. I have no time. I have no access to a gym. I’ve used all of those excuses before. When you travel, there are even more excuses: I’m on holiday. I’m in a foreign country. There’s no zumba or spinning or crossfit or whatever cardio class you do.

Travel is no longer for holidays. Our work fortunately brings us to foreign places for a few days or even longer. Last week, I was in Singapore for work, covering Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and interviewing a number of chefs. You would say staying fit should be the last thing on my mind. In the past I would gain several pounds from overseas trips, but it need not be the case. My body too craves working out, and healthy food. So here are my five tips to stay on track while you travel:


1. Wear running shoes or sneakers in the airport
I learned this tip from Kenneth Cobonpue, the famous Filipino furniture designer Brad Pitt adores. In an interview I did with Cobonpue on his travels for Business Traveler Asia, he told me he brings gym shorts and running shoes in his carry-on when he travels. This wayhe could easily squeeze in a workout in the airports.


Some airports have gyms available for use for travelers. International airports often provide long walkways to get to your gate. While waiting for your flight, instead of sitting down put in your steps. Walk around. Explore the airport. Keep walking. Before you know it, you’ve done your 10,000 step daily quota. Think about it too, you will be spending the next few hours cooped up in a plane sitting down. Take advantage of this time to move around.

Running shoes are also bulky, and take up much space in your suitcase. Wearing them gives you more room in your checked-in bag. We welcome this given the limited weight allocation for passengers


2. Bring Healthy Snacks
Pack in a few small portions of nuts, energy bars, and oatmeal for a healthy breakfast on the go. I find myself binge eating when I get hungry. Having easy access to those snacks will prevent you from inhaling a large order of fries or a huge bag of potato chips.


3. Hit the Parks


No gym, no problem. If you check into a hotel, then you will likely have access to a gym. Although not all hotels have gyms, especially cozy boutique hotels who opt not to have this facility. Look for nearby parks. In Singapore, this is not a problem as there are many parks. I hit the Singapore Botanic Garden, with its plethora of running trails and a pond. It is so picturesque with towering trees and flowers in bloom, you will truly enjoy your outdoor walk and workout here.


There are also open air gym facilities around housing communities. Walk or run for 30 minutes when do some functional exercises like:

– Burpees
– Russian Twists
– Mountain Climbers
– Squats
– Lunges
– Dips

I find the Singapore River to be a great place to brisk walk in the morning. In the company of the plethora of dogs and their nannies, I do my burpees, mountain climbers, lunges, and squats. Going for a walk in the morning outdoors will give you a glimpse into the city you are visiting. Great time to familiarize yourself with the neighborhood you are staying in, find good eateries nearby, and interact with the locals.

4. Weights on the Go
In the absence of weights, you may use liter bottles of water for bicep curls. Alternatively, you can use your body as the best weights. No excuse not to do push-ups and planks when traveling.

5. Drink lots of water
It is easy to get dehydrated when you travel. Some places are more humid than what you are used to. With all the moving, walking, and sight seeing, you are likely to sweat and feel hot. Drink lots of water. Bring a water bottle with you. When I forget to drink lots of water, I find myself craving sweet drinks.

Happy trip and stay healthy!

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