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By nature, most business travel involves lots of sitting – whether that’s at the airport, on the flight, in meetings or in cars to and from – and plenty of eating too, such as at the hotel breakfast buffet, dinners out with clients, or again, in the air.
Combine the two and it’s very easy to slowly stack on the kilos. And let's be honest, finding time for health and fitness during a packed business trip can be tough.
You can't always hit the gym for a 30-45 minute session, so here are some of the practical approaches I take to try and help keep the weight down when travelling for work.
1. Don’t eat food just because it’s there
Whether in the lounge, on the plane, at the hotel buffet or anywhere else on my business trips, one rule I constantly follow is not to eat food just because it’s sitting there in front of me or the option is available.
If I’m hungry, then absolutely – but, for example, on overnight flights between Asia and Australia, many airlines begin the journey with a full dinner service even when departing late in the evening, when the departure time is better-suited to going to bed.
I wouldn’t eat two dinners at home, so I don’t do so just because I’m travelling: having my evening meal on the ground before the flight, and breakfast just before landing or after I’ve reached my home or hotel is more than enough food for me.
2. Skim milk isn’t a hard request
Skim, skinny, semi-skimmed, non-fat, 2% or whatever the local terminology may be, when ordering my usual latte, adding that magic word to the order is an easy way to keep extra calories at bay, while still enjoying my preferred cuppa.
In the same vein, I never drink full-calorie soft drink: only the diet stuff, and when it comes to dessert, I adopt the same approach as in the last tip – if I’m already full, it doesn’t need to be eaten! When I’m not, smaller portions generally win over large and elaborate desserts.
3. Hotel gyms have their place, but exploring the local city is more fun
I’m no stranger to hotel fitness centres, and I’ll make good use of them where I can: but where my schedule (and the weather) allows, I’d rather spend my time walking around and exploring a new city than merely taking steps on a treadmill, especially on days off.
For instance, I recently found myself in Boston on business with a day to spare, and being my first time visiting the city, decided to spend that day sightseeing. Rather than taking taxis everywhere, I ventured out on foot – easy to do there given the city’s clearly marked walking trails – and managed to notch up over 21,000 steps in a single day.
You don’t need a smartwatch or standalone pedometer to count your steps: many smartphones can do this by default – with iPhone, the feature can be enabled and monitored via the Health app, for example – and I find that seeing how many steps I’ve taken (or the lack thereof) encourages me to take more.
Later the same week, I flew over to Frankfurt, and while I didn’t have a spare day here to dedicate to wandering, I was still able to get out and about after the business day had ended: helped with the sun being up later during the European summer:
4. Public transport helps keep those steps up
Again, while I could just take a car from door to door, I find catching public transport another easy way of keeping those steps up – especially on journeys that have you walking through large stations, or where there’s a walk involved between those stations and where I am or where I need to be.
Obviously, this doesn’t apply when I’m pushed for time and public transport is less practical, although in some cases, taking a bus or train can be faster than navigating through traffic, saving time while also providing a quick spot of exercise on the go.
5. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself!
While it’s easy to forget about health and fitness on the road, in my view, I don’t want to think about it too much either, because I enjoy the fun of travelling, and counting calories with every meal would take some of that fun away, or prevent me from trying some of the local specialties.
Instead, my practical approach helps to keep the kilos off without it feeling like a chore, and while still exploring and enjoying all that each city has to offer.
I also turn a blind eye when there’s nice Champagne being poured – because hey, after a long walk around the city, I’ve earned it!
What’s your approach to staying trim on your travels? Share your thoughts in the comment box below!