Travel no excuse for forfeiting fitness routine

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Q. I've started to travel a lot more for work and it's very upsetting to my workout routine at home. What do you suggest?

A. I suggest you make exercise a priority, whether you're in or out of town. Indeed, taking time to work out on the road will make you happier, healthier and give you more energy to do the things you need to do.

Keeping up a daily routine even if it's just 10 minutes at a time will also help you sleep better, work better and better handle the stress of being away. We all tend to use travel as an excuse to overeat, so doing some calorie-burning time early in the morning or before you go to dinner helps you avoid those extra pounds, too. But you have to have a plan. It won't just happen. Consider the following:

n Book a hotel with a workout facility. They're easier to find than ever. But call or e-mail ahead and find out what the hotel means by a "fitness room." Some hotel gyms are pretty crummy. Some hotels charge extra. If a pool is important to you, ask about that, too.

n Learn to jump rope and use bands. Jump ropes are light and portable and you can't beat them for working up a healthy sweat in just a few minutes. Ropes are also useful for stretching out your shoulders, arms and hamstrings at the end of a difficult day; and not only does it feel good, it can help prevent all kinds of morning-after aches and back pains. Another highly portable, highly recommended piece of gear is an exercise band or tube. Simple to use, and beneficial!

n Develop an in-room routine. Either hire a personal trainer for an hour to give you a routine to travel with, or check out one of the many Road Workout fitness books. It is simple to turn your hotel room into a perfectly respectable workout space, using a chair, a towel, the bed. etc. Yoga is made to order for this, but pushups, chair dips, lunges and crunches work well, too.

n Take control. Be determined to schedule some workout time into your day. Get up early and take a walk, climb the stairs in your hotel or bring along a favorite workout video. The doing of it is easy. It's the wanting to do it that involves a real commitment.

REMEMBER: Being on the road, traveling for work, is stressful and makes you vulnerable to all sorts of unhealthy habits. Find refuge and sanctuary in establishing an energizing workout routine that helps you stay calm, balanced, healthy and strong, no matter where you go.

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