Fitness Routine for the Business Traveler

Man entering sports centre, Wapping, London
Fitness and Travel. Franek Strzeszewski / Getty Images

For frequent business travelers, establishing and maintaining a consistent fitness habit can seem almost impossible.

With long hours, long duration spent on planes, trains, and automobiles, having to eat out for most meals or order room service, little sleep and a typically out-of-synched body clock (see circadian rhythms), there is little room or energy to add regular exercise to such a full plate.

Yet, one of the keys to working effectively over the long-term is to be energetic and healthy. It doesn't make sense to sacrifice health and performance for more work.

Staying Fit While On The Go

Staying in hotel gyms may seem the simplest option for the business traveler dedicated to keeping fit. However, not all hotels have gyms, and those that do are typically sparsely equipped. Nevertheless, a gym is only as useful and productive as the person using it. Exercise starts first and foremost with your body, not with the equipment you may choose to use for exercise. 

Build Your Travel Fitness Routine

The suggestion here is to build your traveling fitness routine around your own body. There is plenty you can do in your own hotel room or in an outdoor setting without the need for a gym or any equipment. Here’s how:

  • Start your travel workouts with a thorough joint mobility routine. This will serve not only to warm your body up for more vigorous strength-training exercises, it will also help you to counteract the stiffness that comes with sitting on planes, trains, and cars for prolonged periods of time. 
  • Rotate all the large joints of the body, wrist, elbows, shoulders, neck, hips, and ankles. Make large circles in both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions. Add spinal rotations by twisting back and forth one side to the other.
  • Be gentle as you mobilize all the joint and do as many repetitions as feels good. The more you move, the looser your body will get. The idea with joint mobility is to work all the stiffness from the joints and warm the body. You can spend from 3 to 15 minutes with joint mobility, depending on how you feel and how much time you have.

Basic Strength Training Exercises

After the joint mobility warm-up, move into your basic strength training exercises, pushups, squats, planks and side planks. There are other good ones as well, however, these 4 can be done anywhere at any time without the need for anything in addition to your body. 

Set up your body weight training circuit like this:

  • Pushups  - maximum reps for 30 second
  • Side Plank -hold 15 sec per side
  • Squats - maximum reps for 30 second
  • Plank - hold for 30 second

That equals one round and takes 2 minutes to complete

Take a 30-second rest and repeat the circuit for a total of 3 up to 10 rounds. Ten rounds will take 25 minutes, including the 30 second rest periods.

Cool Down and Stretch

No workout is complete without a cool-down and stretch.​

To begin the cool-down, repeat your joint mobility warm-up.

Following the joint mobility cool-down, spend at least five to 10 minutes stretching all the large muscles of your body, hamstrings, hip flexors, quads, calves and the muscles along the spine.

Flexibility training is an extremely important aspect of any fitness program, and even more important for a frequent traveler because of the compression to the muscles and joints that occur with the prolonged sitting that goes with travel.

Basic yoga asanas, such as Down Dog, Cobra, Bridge Pose and Child’s Pose will cover most of your flexibility needs. 

This routine is simple to do, yet will pay great dividends to the business traveler for maintaining a healthy, functional body. With this travel routine as a base, you can always add variety by including occasional gym workouts when available, adding jogging, sprint or stair running, or by bringing along light, portable exercise tools, such as a jump rope, fitness bands and/or a suspension trainer.