Q: I travel frequently for business. I try to eat well and fit in some exercise, but at times it seems impossible to stick to a healthy lifestyle when I spend so much time on the road. Help!
A: Get creative! When you spend much of your time on airplanes and in hotels, it's tough to follow a "regular" exercise and nutrition program. You'll need to develop some new techniques-and get back to basics with a few old techniques-to stay fit. Here are a few tips:
Plan ahead. Entrepreneurs are generally good planners, and this skill should be applied to your healthy lifestyle. Contact your hotel to find out if it has gym facilities on site or nearby. Call ahead to the airline and request a vegetarian or fruit meal on your flight-this healthy, low-fat fare will keep your energy level high.
Turn down-time into up-time. Stuck at an airport with flight delays? Don't sit around getting more and more jet-lagged. Says fitness pro Joan Price (http://www.joanprice.com), "Instead of reading the paper or having a drink, de-stress and get your exercise by walking around the airport. Change to your athletic shoes if you're not wearing them, store your carry-on in a locker, and take off. The longer you walk, the better, but even five minutes is enough to make a difference in your mood and energy level."
Walk, walk, walk. Everywhere. As often as possible. Walk a few blocks and enjoy a new city rather than taking a taxi. Stay off the people mover at the airport.
Pack a workout. A simple elastic exercise band can offer a terrific workout if your hotel doesn't have a gym. These are sold at any sporting goods or home fitness retailer, or Web site under the names Dyna-Band and Xertube.
Take the stairs. You've heard it a thousand times: Use the stairs instead of the elevator. So why don't you do it? And don't just take the stairs throughout your workday; use them for a workout. Jog, hop and squat up and down a set of 10 steps for 20 minutes, and then tell me that's not a better workout than the Stairmaster.
Do it the old-fashioned way. You're sitting in your hotel room after a long day of travel and business appointments. The last thing you want to do is lace up your shoes and jump around on the hotel stairs. That's understandable, but don't give in to temptation and channel surf for the evening-try some simple calisthenics and stretching to help you release the day's tension. A few sets of push-ups, abdominal crunches and squats, followed by a nice full-body stretch will get your blood flowing and improve your mood. A new trend to look out for: Many hotels are now offering exercise videos through their pay-per-view service.
Eat right. Every restaurant offers healthy meal options these days. It's all a matter of discipline. Skip the fast food temptations and go for a thick deli sandwich or a salad with dressing on the side. For those times when late-night munchies send you to the vending machines, try an apple and a tall glass of water. You'll satisfy the urge to crunch and get your fill of fiber along the way.
Not enough hours in the day for you to get in shape? Check out "Power Workout" for tips on how to carve out some time.
Shannon Entin is the publisher and editor of FitnessLink (www.fitnesslink.com) and co-author ofThe Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Health and Fitness(Macmillan). An ACE-certified (American Council on Exercise) fitness instructor, Shannon thrives on inspiring people to live healthier lifestyles.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.