How to make frequent work travel less disruptive to your health

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This article is sponsored by Virgin Active.  »

It’s often a little exciting to begin with, but frequent travel for work can eventually feel like a major disruption to our lives. The impact on family life is obvious, and juggling social commitments can be challenging too, but often it is our health and fitness that suffers the most.

Regular business trips with the accompanying functions, dinners, drinks, and long days spent sitting in meetings may begin to make our usual clothes feel tighter, until before long that short dash through the airport terminal is making us puff.

It’s about then we realise the travel is taking its toll on our health and we need to get fit. We may have the best intentions of getting up earlier – wherever we may be – to go for a run, or to punch out a few sit-ups and push-ups before bed, but it doesn’t always last. In reality, those red-eye flights, breakfast meetings and after-hours email responses invariably get in the way.

However, there are a few simple things we can do to keep us feeling fit and our heart rates healthy.

Try and stick to your usual routine as much as possible

At home we’re far more likely to hit the gym, right? And while we’re travelling we plan to use the hotel gym – but let’s be honest, how often does that actually happen? Effective exercise is about routine and regularity so when that routine is disrupted by travel, exercise is often ditched altogether.

Joining a health and fitness club such as Virgin Active means we can continue with our favourite exercise classes like Reformer Pilates, Boxing, Yoga, HIIT, Cycle (and more) away from home, thereby continuing our routine. There is a degree of comfort and familiarity when we visit our own gym in a strange city. It looks pretty much the same, it feels the same, the classes are the same, and our body knows what it’s doing in that environment.

With a Virgin Active Collection membership we have the benefit of access to almost all of the facilities in Virgin Active clubs everywhere, as well as free towels – handy when travelling – and the ability to plan and book our classes nine days in advance.

Make good meal choices, even if you can expense it all

There’s a certain “you’re on holiday” mentality when away from home, which can encourage some naughty food choices, but, as mentioned earlier, the more you stick to your usual routine, the better. If there’s a lot of dining out in the itinerary, try and make the simple calls like salad over fries and table water instead of a soft drink or wine. Businesses usually offer a set budget per day for food expenses while on a work trip, and while it can be understandable to take advantage of that you still need to listen to your body. When it’s full, it’s full.

Walk to meetings, or even during them

Wherever possible, ditch the car, taxi or Uber and walk to your meeting or destination. Again, while it can be tempting to take the easy route given you can expense transport, it’s not always going to be beneficial. Then, of course, there’s the Steve Jobs-approved walking meeting. Not only does research show that walking can increase creative thinking, there’s also multiple anecdotal instances of walking meetings can increase encourage more honest conversation and productivity than your traditional sit-down exchange.

Up your water intake

A truly obvious pointer but one that must be constantly reiterated. Drink your recommended daily intake, which is 8 glasses for females (2.1 litres) and 10 for males (2.8 litres). Your body is doing different things during travel, and definitely during a whirlwind business trip, which means it’s important as ever to keep hydrated.

Also, sometimes our bodies can mistake thirst for hunger. If we don’t hydrate during the day that first beer after work is often closely followed by a second, but for the wrong reason. Dehydration also makes our gym workout feel so much harder. Change to low-carb drinks and aim to drink at least a litre of water every day – more if you’re working out.

No matter how you might be feeling about the travelling-for-work situation right now, it is possible to regain control over your health and fitness by making healthy decisions away from the office.

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