Healthy Lifestyle

Staying Active on the Road

Staying Active on the Road
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health

When you are traveling and conscious of your weight and health, ways to stay active are abundant. Once you are settled at a destination, hotels often have fitness centers and pools, you can walk to various attractions and stores, and it is usually possible to squeeze in a workout in your hotel room if necessary. 

What happens, though, on travel days? How can you keep active during road trips when you have long drives, or on days when you have one or more flights and car rides on either end? There are several things you can do to break up sedentary time and reduce negative effects on your health. Lark DPP mentioned a few, and here are some more.

Flying High at Airports

Flight itineraries with one, two, or three legs can take up your whole day, but you do not need to sit motionless the whole time. Walking briskly between checkpoints, such as security and gates, and strolling around while waiting to board your flight, can add a significant number of steps to your day.

When planning to walk around an airport while waiting for your next flight, it can help to minimize what you are carrying, since airports no longer typically have lockers where you can store bags. Rolling carry-on suitcases, lightly-packed carry-on bags, and padded backpacks can be easier to keep with you while walking than heavy bags that you need to carry. Similarly, dressing in comfortable clothes and shoes for walking can also make walking easier.

If you need a change of pace, want to stay settled with your luggage, or are working on a laptop and do not want to walk, you can try other exercises. Crunches, planks, wall push-ups, wall sits, squats, and other in-place movements and strength exercises are all possible in airport waiting areas. Marching in place and shifting side to side while waiting in lines are other options.

Most people do not like long layovers, but they can have a bright side. When you are stuck in an airport for a couple hours or more, you may have time to get in a good workout. Airport hotels often have fitness centers that welcome any traveler who purchases a day pass. Along with full workout facilities, they may have a place to store your luggage while you work out, and a shower so you can continue on your way refreshed.

Restless at Rest Stops

Has a long drive ever left you feeling drowsy or fatigued even though you did not move a muscle all day? The solution is to move regularly, and other benefits include boosting metabolism, lowering risk for type 2 diabetes, and sleeping better at your destination. Rest stops offer opportunities to get out of the car and get moving. These are possibilities.

  • Using exercise equipment that is often in place at rest stops.
  • Walking or jogging around the parking lot a few times (get started only gradually as you do not want to pull a muscle after sitting in the car!).
  • Hopping from foot to foot or jumping on your toes while in line for the restroom.
  • Skipping rope if you have one in the car.

By the way, remember to support your healthy activity choices with healthy food choices if you are fueling up at a rest stop. Grilled chicken, fresh fruit, and salads are often available in any type of restaurant or cafeteria.

Stopping several extra times over the course of the day may delay your overall trip time by 30 to 60 minutes, but the rewards are worth it as you get more out of your trip when you feel better and sleep better.

On the Road or in the Sky

Are you stuck on a bus, plane, or train, or in a car for an hour or more? “Stuck” is one way to think about it, but “ready to rise to the challenge” is another. When it is safe, you can walk a bit around train cars or plane cabins to stretch your legs and circulate some blood. If you are driving in a car or cannot stand up in a plane, train, or bus, stretching your arms and legs, doing ankle circles, raising and lowering your shoulders and arms, and folding and unfolding arms and legs can all break up motionless time. 

There are many ways to get active while traveling, even on the busiest of travel days. They can require some flexibility as you are unlikely to be able to get in your usual workouts at your usual times, but it helps to remember that anything is far better than nothing when it comes to losing weight, staying fit, and lowering risk for type 2 diabetes. Using Lark DPP can help you stay accountable and remind you to get active, and setting a timer to periodically get moving can keep you on track, too.