Although maintaining a consistent workout routine on your home turf can be a formidable task, the stress and uncertainties of travel make sweating on the road an even more challenging undertaking. Airport delays, meals on the go, unfamiliar beds and demanding business meetings defeat even the best exercise intentions.
The benefits of sweating during your business travels, however, are significant enough to prioritize at least 20-minutes for the gym. Keeping you fit and trim is one perk, but studies demonstrate that a little heart pumping can even improve your job performance. For example, a 2003 Hilton study found that those who exercised during travel performed 61 percent better on the job than non-exercisers.
So, what can you do to better your odds of sweating during your sojourns? Motivation is the name of the game. Test drive one or all of the following strategies to keep you on the road to wellness:
If you're thinking Krispy Kremes and chocolate shakes, stop! A big helping of fat and sugar is not the type of incentive you need. Instead, tell yourself that you will treat your body, soul and mind to a 60-minute massage if and only if you get your butt on the treadmill. A daily body rub may become a little pricey if your trip lasts for 3 or 4 days. In that case, use the allure of one massage at the end of your trip as a payoff for daily activity. These machinations may feel rather Pavlovian, but who cares? If you don't get into the gym, your fitness regimen will certainly go to the dogs.
Find a Buddy
Misery loves company and so does exertion. Sharing your jog, weight-lifting, or swim will not only help motivate you to get out the door, but will also make the sweat-time fly by. Having a "partner in grime" running by my side, along with the chit chat and teamwork, shorten the perceived distance.
Finding a running mate may be difficult on the road, but certain hotels, such as the Westin in San Francisco, offer organized runs throughout the week.
Sign up for a Race
Competition defines the business world. Most of us are driven by a desire to succeed and a will to outperform our rivals. Bringing this emulous spirit to your fitness regimen can be the perfect motivator. I find that an impending race for which I've already registered and paid the fee (typically on www.active.com), be it a 5K, 10K, marathon, or triathlon, always gets me out to train--especially during travel.
Buy New Gear
C'mon, admit it. A new shirt, shorts, or fresh pair of shoes gets you excited. That perky feeling may only last a week or so, but packing that new timing gadget, cool shirt, or pair of Nikes may be just enough incentive to draw you out from your cookie-cutter hotel room. Consider buying and stashing away a few new items for your next extended trip.
Get it Done First
Out-of-town work schedules are as unpredictable as a hurricane's path. Meetings run longer than expected, the home office calls with last minute urgent tasks and client dinners morph into after-dinner cocktails. If you don't set your morning alarm 20 to 30 minutes early to sweat and chirp at the break of dawn, you will probably never get the healthy worm. Plus, postponing your workout leaves it nagging at your conscious like an employee you reluctantly must terminate. Starting with a vigorous morning workout will steer you to the path of productivity and prepare your body and mind for peak performance throughout the day.
Jim Kaese is co-founder of Athletic-Minded Traveler, LLC, which operates the largest healthy travel content site on the web, creates healthy lifestyle content for various media, and generates online custom wellness and work-life solutions for Fortune 500 employers.