Traveling Soon? Here’s how to stay fit and healthy on the road


Written by:

I travel fairly frequently for work, and it can be brutal. We’re talking long days, little sleep, subpar food and lots of sitting…not to mention flying, which just generally makes me feel crummy. Over the years, though, I’ve developed a few strategies for staying healthy on the road.

Why flying is a little like climbing a mountain

First though, since we love science here at Practically Fit, I was curious about the physiological effects of travel, and air travel in particular. As it turns out, the exhaustion you feel after a long flight doesn’t just come from sitting in a cramped seat eating pretzels and trying to avoid awkward small talk.

Flying induces something called “hypobaric hypoxia,” otherwise known as altitude sickness. This is because commercial jets are pressurized to between 6,000 to 8,000 feet of altitude. While this is enough to keep most of us comfortable, it can still cause some mild discomfort, especially for people particularly sensitive to altitude (that would be me).

2017 article in the International Journal of Molecular Science found that just 30 minutes of hypobaric hypoxia similar to what you would experience in an airplane causes alterations in the immune system, haemostasis (blood flow) and protein metabolism. Northwestern Medicine has a simple list of 10 Health Tips for Plane Travel that can help counteract some of these negative effects. Primary among them is drinking lots of water and maybe skipping that in-flight cocktail.

Practical tips for exercise and eating

So that covers the flight, but what about the rest of the trip? We all know that exercise can help boost your immune system and combat stress. But let’s face it, getting in a workout on the road can be a struggle, and healthy eating can be twice as hard. I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, but here are a few things that have worked for me:

Always pack workout clothes. The one time I didn’t bring my running shoes on a trip, I ended up on a beautiful college campus, with miles of paved running trails and great weather. On my way to get coffee, I was so envious seeing all the runners go by. Since then, I always pack my running shoes—even if I don’t get to run, they are great to slip on for the flight back or just walking around the airport or hotel.

Walking is your friend. Speaking of the airport, it’s a great place to walk! Unless you’re that daring individual who shows up 5 minutes before pre-board, you are going to be at the airport early anyway, so use that time to take a power walk through the terminal. Maybe you’ll even find some healthy food along the way.

Bring snacks…seriously. I must confess, I’m the world’s worst about this. I once endured a 10-hour flight from the U.K. with little more than a sad bag of currants. The plane was out of snack packs and inexplicably only fed us in the last few hours of the flight. By the time I landed, I was hungry enough to devour the next greasy fast-food meal I could find. If you’re traveling the conference circuit, packing healthy snacks is equally important since you truly never know what may end up on your plate…especially if you’re vegetarian/vegan (I have SO many stories about this). Well+Good has some tips for healthy snacks to pack—from a cardiologist no less—if you need some ideas.

Every little bit counts. While we’re on the subject of snacks, try to work in some bite-size workout sessions. 

Alex Johnson recently wrote about the benefits of “exercise snacking.” On my most recent work trip, I was only able to squeeze in one short cardio/strength session at the hotel gym, but I worked in a few exercise “snacks” along the way, including some squats and wall pushups in my hotel room and some stair-climbing at the event location. I also brought my trusty jump rope along, but unfortunately, the ceiling of the hotel room was too low to use it (doh!).

Take it easy on yourself

As we were sitting in the airport noshing on the healthiest snacks we could find while waiting the flight home from a recent work trip, a colleague reminded me of the most important healthy travel tip, which is to give yourself some grace. Let’s face it: no matter how much you prepare, travel is always going to take you out of your routine, sap some of your energy and impact your healthy habits, and that’s OK.

While I do my best to stay healthy on work trips, I know I’m not going to be able to do it all or do it perfectly. Instead, I just try to do the best I can and look forward to getting back to my routine and perhaps even doubling down on eating healthy and exercising when I get back. 

As someone who likes to run long distances, I remind myself that healthy habits are a marathon and not a sprint.

If you travel often for work or pleasure, let us know how you stay healthy on the road.

Did you miss our latest podcast? Then you’re missing out!  Alex Johnson and I debated the merits of home gyms versus gym memberships. Listen to the podcast and vote in our quick poll to determine the winner. There’s only three days left to vote. Thank you for subscribing to and supporting Practically Fit.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

More from MediaFeed:

Like MediaFeed’s content? Be sure to follow us.

These are the fittest cities in America

These are the fittest cities in America

More than ever before, this past year has made Americans appreciate the opportunity to go outside and get moving, when socially distant and possible.

Since gyms have shut down or are operating at a lower capacity, going for a walk and exercising outdoors have become increasingly appealing ways to work out. Any chance to get outside nowadays is a welcome treat, especially when being outdoors can boost endorphins and improve our overall wellbeing.

It’s easier to take advantage of the outdoors when living in a city that prioritizes the accessibility and maintenance of its recreational facilities and public parks. Investing in parks and providing outdoor spaces for public recreation is as much an investment in residents’ health and wellbeing. 

To honor the communities that have shown a commitment to the health and wellness of their residents, the data scientists at Insurify crunched the numbers to identify the most fitness-friendly cities in each state.

The data scientists at Insurify, a platform to compare home insurance, referred to both proprietary and public data to identify the fittest cities. They rated U.S. cities based on a composite score of factors including residents with physically demanding or health- and fitness-promoting jobs as well as quality and access to parks and outdoor recreational facilities.

Insurify’s data scientists referred to their database of over 4 million car insurance applications to identify the cities with the highest proportion of residents with occupations that demand significant physical activity or promote health and fitness, ranging from park rangers, fitness club managers, and chiropractors, to dancers and choreographers. 

To evaluate access to outdoor facilities and recreational spaces, Insurify’s team compiled data from Niche’s most recent Outdoor Activities rankings, which rates each city on its quality and access to the outdoors using key indicators of a location’s environment, such as air quality, local weather and access to natural amenities and outdoor recreation. 

Also factored into the composite scores were, the Trust for Public Land’s Parkscore Rankings, which identify the cities with the highest proportion of residents living within a 10-minute walk to a park. 

Gyms were not included in this study. Not only are gyms often inaccessible to lower-income residents, but many gyms have been operating at a minimal, or even completely shut down capacity over the past year due to COVID-19.

NOTE: Vermont is not listed.

FitNish Media / Pixabay

Winner: Ozark

Winner: Anchorage


Winner: Tucson

Winner: Little Rock

Winner: San Diego

Winner: Denver

Winner: Stratford

dima_sidelnikov / istockphoto

Winner: Seaford

Winner: Jacksonville

Winner: Atlanta

Extreme Media/istockphoto

Winner: Honolulu


Winner: Boise


Winner: Chicago


Winner: Bloomington


Winner: Davenport

Winner: Wichita

Kaspars Grinvalds/shutterstock

Winner: Louisville

CentralITAlliance / istockphoto

Winner: New Orleans

tommaso79 / istockphoto

Winner: Lewiston


Winner: Washington


Winner: Boston


Winner: Detroit


Winner: Minneapolis


Winner: Ridgeland


Winner: Kansas City


Winner: Kalispell


Winner: Omaha


Winner: Henderson

Drazen Zigic/istockphoto

Winner: Nashua


Winner: Vineland

Steve Debenport/istockphoto

Winner: Albuquerque


Winner: New York City

Winner: Raleigh

Winner: Bismarck


Winner: Columbus

Winner: Oklahoma City

Winner: Portland

Winner: Philadelphia


Winner: Warwick

Winner: Westminster

Winner: Sioux Falls


Winner: Memphis


Winner: Houston


Winner: Draper


Winner: Chesapeake


Winner: Seattle


Winner: Youngstown


Winner: Milwaukee



Featured Image Credit: