Traveling for business or a much-needed vacation can be a little unnerving when you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle. Although it may be challenging, eating healthy and staying fit while out of your normal routine can be accomplished if you plan well and are intentional about your goals.Here are five tips to help you stay healthy and fit during your summer travels or next trip away from home.
1) Maintain a healthy diet.
- Although room service may be calling your name, you can opt for a healthier version instead of the huge Angus beef burger with cheese and french fries. Try ordering a salad or grilled fish (or chicken) with steamed vegetables.
- If time permits, try packing some healthy snack options to help keep you from derailing your progress:
- Beef/turkey jerky or hummus are options that are high in protein/low-fat. Protein promotes satiety which keeps you feeling fuller longer.
- Hard-boiled eggs have B vitamins and are a good source of protein. B vitamins are important for metabolic processes and help the body convert stored energy like glycogen and fats into usable energy.
- Apples and peanut butter are great options as well. Apples are a good source of fiber and support digestive health. Peanut butter has high amounts of protein, but should be consumed in moderation because of its high calorie content.
- Stay hydrated. It is so easy to become dehydrated while traveling, especially on long flights. The air on the plane has low humidity which draws moisture from your eyes, nose and mouth. This process causes your body to lose quite a bit of water which can result in dehydration.
- So although you may feel that you are properly hydrated before your flight, it is possible to feel/become dehydrated after the end of your flight. To counter this outcome, it is important to compensate for the loss of water by staying properly hydrated before – and during – your flight. Yes, this can be difficult when you are forced to discard any packed beverages at the airport checkpoint. As an alternative, bring an empty water bottle and fill it up once inside the airport or purchase a nice tall bottle of water in the airport quick-mart before your flight.
2) Boost your immune system.
- It may seem overbearing, but if you want to avoid getting sick while traveling it is imperative that you carry your own bacteria-fighting arsenal. Do not be afraid to whip out your disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer before a flight and wipe down your seating area. Although disinfectant wipes will not get rid of 100 percent of the germs, they are sure to give your immune system a fighting chance by lessening the load.
- Eat fruits and vegetables that are packed with phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals that give your body the nourishment it needs.
- Eat a wholesome diet and fill in nutritional gaps with a multivitamin to ensure you are getting adequate amounts of micronutrients such as zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E. Deficiencies in certain micronutrients may have negative affects on the immune system.
3) Make time to stay active and exercise.
- Incorporate physical activity into your vacation or travel plans. Try biking as you explore a new area or seek out adventure by hiking up a mountain and bungee jumping down into a nice cool pond. It may be just a simple ride up to the top of a slope and skiing for the weekend. Whatever you decide to do, don’t forget the importance of enjoying a little physical activity. The FDA suggests getting at least 2-3 hours of aerobic activity a week, so why not make it fun?
- If you are traveling for work, physical activity may look a little different than the normal scenery at your local gym. Bring a pair of running shoes and go for a sprint around the hotel or make a short trek to the hotel fitness facility for a more intense workout. If you prefer to stay in your room and lay low, pack your mini-resistance bands and opt for an in-room workout. Get creative and try some new moves like seated band hip abduction, lateral walks, and monster walks. There are a variety of fitness apps you can try out on your phone, iPad or tablet, too!
4) Don’t forget to rest.
- Quality sleep at the right times can help your mental health, physical health, quality of life and even safety. When we travel to different time zones, our circadian rhythms may get off track and lead to feeling jet lagged. If you are prone to experiencing difficulty sleeping when you travel check with your health-care provider about taking melatonin a few hours before you plan to go to bed. Some people find that this compound helps synchronize their body’s internal clock.
- Sleep helps the brain work more efficiently. When your body is at rest, your brain is busy making preparations for the next day and consolidating memories from the day for long term storage.
- Sleep helps maintain hormone levels produced in response to dietary needs. Examples include the hormones ghrelin (which tells the body you’re hungry) and leptin (which tells the body you’re full).
- Not getting adequate amounts of sleep each night can negatively affect your immune system.
- Sleep cannot also impact your safety indirectly. People who are sleep deprived tend to be more likely to fall asleep while doing important tasks like driving. In fact, statistics show that sleep deprived individuals experience the same number if not slightly more accidents than drunk drivers.
5) Don’t stress.
- Listen to some music, meditate and reflect. Stress, by nature, elicits the fight or flight response. Music has been studied and proven to change the mood of the listener. If music isn’t your thing, try mediation. Meditation may help to calm and relax you by structurally transforming the brain and changing its response to stress.
- Exercising helps keep you fit but also helps to increase mood-boosting hormones called endorphins. Endorphins are responsible for the euphoric sensation you feel after an intense workout or a good run.
- Get outside and go for a relaxing walk. Walking in nature can lower cortisol levels, a hormone that is increased during times of stress.
- They say laughter is the best medicine. Well, there may be some truth to that old saying. Researchers have found that laughter has the ability to reduce stress hormones by as much as 70 percent. Even the anticipation of laughter has the ability to reduce stress.
- Read a book to help you relax and de-stress. As little as 10 minutes of reading can be adequate enough to decrease stress levels by more than 68 percent. If done consistently, reading can also improve memory and slow down mental decline.
Remember, balance is the key to a healthy lifestyle. What are some other tips you have on staying healthy while traveling? Which tip are you interested in incorporating in your future travel plans or next trip? ✈️
Bittman B. B. Recreational music-making: an integrative group intervention for reducing burnout and improving mood states in first year associate degree nursing students: insights and economic impact. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, published online July 9, 2004.