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Wellness on the road: Business travel challenges healthy lifestyle choices

Business Travel Chalenges A Healthy Lifestyle
Business Travel Chalenges A Healthy Lifestyle
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

In the fast paced business world of New York, maintaining a work-life balance is challenging enough. Adding a consistent high volume of business travel amplifies that challenge exponentially.

Prolonged sitting on flights, during business meetings and dinners negatively impacts health by reducing normal amounts of movement activity. Long bouts of sitting restrict circulation, slow metabolism and shorten the hip flexor muscles often triggering low back pain. The best remedy for these business travel related health effects is exercise. For most business travelers however, time and access to exercise options are often very limited.

“As for my fitness routine on the road, I would say the biggest challenge for me is time” says management consultant Jamie. G. “I always bring my gym gear with me, but don't always use it because I have to be in the office early and am too tired to get up even earlier to work out”. In addition to struggling to fit exercise into business travel, Jamie noted that it can be difficult to easily find healthy food options when having to eat every meal out.

The double edged sword of increased calorie intake and reduced calorie burning exercise can make business travel an impediment to the adoption of healthy lifestyles promoted by corporate workplace wellness programs.

As a frequent traveler Jamie has noticed that some hotels are making an effort to support healthy lifestyles. She cites Westin Hotel’s program to rent out sneakers and workout clothes during your stay as an example. And indeed the hotel industry has responded to provide more options for fitness-minded travelers. According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the number of U.S. hotels with fitness facilities hit an all time high at 84% in 2012. In addition, many hotel chains are providing non-gym based fitness options such as running maps, access to portable equipment and mats for in room fitness, as well as, fitness videos on hotel TV channels. Westin is one of the premier chains leading the charge to deliver health and wellness services to their customers through their Westin Essence programs which include well appointed gyms, private workout rooms, running maps and even exercise clothes. Likewise, most hotels and restaurants now offer heart healthy and diet conscious choices for every meal.

For business travelers on a budget, access to adequate workout facilities can be the primary challenge to maintaining a fitness routine. International touring and recording artist Kirsten Thien says that aside from the few breaks in her schedule moving from gig to gig, usually between sound check and dinner, the biggest challenge is finding reliable internet service and suitable floor space to access her favorite online fitness programs. Kirsten primarily does online body weight workout videos that don’t require equipment or significant space as many of the locations she stays, especially while on tour in Europe, do not have gyms. Given her short time windows, quick modular 10-20 minute workouts like those from CoreFitnessByJana and Chris Freytag are her favorites for maintaining a fitness routine.

As Kirsten has found, online and mobile app workouts are a relatively accessible exercise outlet for business travelers of all fitness levels with a wide variety of exercise modalities such as Pilates, Boot Camp or Yoga workouts. Online workouts not only help address the travel challenges of time and access, but offer consistency regardless of location, quality of accommodations and travel budget.

There are so many aspects of business travel schedules that cannot be controlled, but thanks to wellness minded hotels and mobile technology, incorporating healthy eating and exercise into business trips is becoming more and more manageable.