Balancing Work and Personal life is a challenge but when you add lots of business travel the challenge grows exponentially.
One of the biggest challenges facing anyone whose work involves a lot of travel is maintaining a fitness program. We are all too aware of the physical and mental toll of demanding careers, as well as the significant benefits of exercise and good physical fitness. Balancing the two is the challenge.
Doing lots of business travel, while sometimes exciting and affording great learning and networking opportunities, is also filled with many trials & tribulations. Hectic airports, cramped seats, aches & pains from long flights, traffic jams, early mornings, long days, time zone changes, countless hotels, high pressure meetings, demanding clients, late client dinners followed by early morning presentations, different languages, different customs, etc, etc... It takes you away from your comfort zone, your home, loved ones & friends and can be an impediment to taking care of your life outside of work.
Work travel, in and of itself, creates stress which is then exacerbated by inhibiting us from maintaining a good fitness routine. You can’t always count on having a quality hotel gym, or that it will be open before or after your long business day, or that there’s a safe place to run or walk. Yet, making room for exercise can make us feel better physically and emotionally, reduce stress, alleviate the physical damage of long flights or drives and give us a sense of keeping control on at least part of our personal life while on the road.
Kirsten Thien: Blues/Rock Singer Songwriter while out on tour with her band, somewhere between South Dakota and Chicago. 5/23/12
Classic Pilates Mat : Back & Arms is a breath of fresh air and a lifesaver after two full days of driving. Two more to go 'til Chi-town. Here's to you from lovely Rapid City, SD! On to the Classic Abs before hitting the road.
I speak from experience. After getting my MBA I spent 5 years as a Management Consultant, the vast majority of which was spent on the road & rarely in my NYC home office. I ”lived” in the Greentree Marriott just outside Pittsburgh for almost a year then on & off in various hotels in downtown Pittsburgh, myriad places in between, and the last 9+ months of my consulting career flying back and forth to LA, every week where I “lived” in the Pasadena Doubletree. You know the drill: Monday 8 AM flight from JFK and either the 4 pm or 10 pm (red eye) flight home each Friday night.
Back then computers were HEAVY (the battery packs weighed as much or more as today’s laptops), we carried lots of hard copy documents and those big bulky hang up bags. Needless to say running through airports encumbered by that load did a real number on my spine! Between carrying the heavy loads and prolonged bouts of sitting on planes or in cars, many business travelers, including myself, develop chronic low back pain. Some days it would take a few minutes for me to get from sitting to fully standing up straight from my "tight back”, like watching the evolution of man from hunched over ape-like version to homo-erectus. And I can’t neglect to mention the effort it took to cram my post flight swollen "Miss Piggy" looking feet back into my pumps after the long JFK-LAX trips. Add in the 3 hour time difference and the "FILO" work schedule (“First In Last Out” in accounting and consulting speak) and there's very little energy left in the tank to hit the gym.
Once home I had to balance (more like juggle unsuccessfully) time with my husband, friends, taking care of my home, my pets, dry cleaning, etc. over a 48 hour period before starting the process over again. The consulting version of the movie “Ground Hog Day”! End result was that finding time to exercise seemed to require tradeoffs I wasn’t always willing or able to make.
Fast forward several years. Now that I’m in the fitness profession I more fully understand the physiologic and kinesiologic toll of the prolonged sitting and unnatural postures we employ to manage all our travel baggage. Prolonged sitting, like on a plane, in a car, or at your desk shortens the psoas, a primary hip flexor, puts strain on the glutes and hamstrings, and compresses your lower back, the lumbar and sacral spine, all which can lead to low back pain, hip pain or even sciatica. Lack of circulation while sitting can cause edema (swelling) of limbs and joints and related discomfort or even result in life threatening Deep Vein Thrombosis (blood clots). And most of us are aware of the general hazards of being sedentary including: obesity, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis.
For more information see: WebMD Article on Travel Related Deep Vein Thrombosis
When we carry heavy items, like computers, brief cases & luggage, in order to maintain our balance & not tip over we compensate by activating and shortening the muscles on one side of our body. This repetitive uneven usage of muscles between the right and left sides can create imbalances in the neck, shoulder, upper back and hip muscles. These imbalances commonly result in various musculoskeletal injuries including, tension, tightness or impingement of the shoulder, knots of pain in the upper back and/or neck (upper trapezius), rounded or hunched upper back, discomfort and/or tightness in one side of your hips.
Kimberly Young: Corporate Finance exec, while on business travel to Peru 5/1/12
Jana, I used the site for the first time on my business trip to Peru last week. It was great, so convenient, I went through the videos in my hotel room! Abs part was great, and the stretching session was great after the long flight.
While there are ways to minimize the repercussions of prolonged sitting and shouldering heavy loads: engagement of the abs and sitting tall with good posture, standing up and walking periodically on long flights, bracing with the core to protect the low back when picking up and carrying heavy objects, repetitive travel wear and tear will catch up with you.
The good news is that we can relatively easily combat and reverse the physical damage of travel with stretching and strengthening exercises. Hip imbalances can be alleviated through hamstring and glute stretches and strengthening exercises such as abductor pulses, lunges & squats. Upper back and shoulder tightness and rounding can be addressed through Pilates back extension exercises and chest stretches. Low back pain from prolonged sitting can be relieved with psoas and quad stretches such as standing forward lunge or cheerleader stretch, and glute and hamstring stretches including tipped over rocker or standing hamstring stretch. Strengthening and toning the muscles of your core, back, shoulders and thighs can help correct strength imbalances, help prevent low back pain and reduce risk of further musculoskeletal injury.
More good news is that it doesn’t require a big time commitment or highly intense workouts to reap the benefits. You don’t have to do the intense long run or the PX90 level workout, in fact its more effective to mix up your routines and more important to DO SOMETHING rather than nothing. Even 15-20 increments of exercise are highly beneficial both physically and emotionally. Below are some examples of good modules to try for your travel related aches & pains:
Low back pain:
Pilates Back Series I & II, Golf: 19th Hole Stretch (New!), In Office Stretch & DeStress(New!)
Pilates side series, Lower Body Sculpt, Flexibility & Mobility Stretch, Golf Pre Round Warm Up (New!)
When I started developing my fitness business I knew that I wanted to provide a service that would cater to that crazy lifestyle I used to live on the road and help business travelers, and others with limited time, maintain fitness routines within and despite their hectic, often uncontrollable schedules. So with CoreFitnessByJana I’ve created something truly portable, that’s available 24/7, offers great workouts that take only 10-20 minutes, and can be done anywhere with just your own body weight. You can mix and match the various exercise modules, designed by modality and body part, to build the perfect program to help you reach your goals while respecting your time constraints.
Watch our Facebook page www.Facebook.com/CoreFitnessByJana/ for more members who recently used our modules while traveling:
However you choose to do it, making a plan to fit exercise into your work travel can help you look & feel better and take back some control of your life. Just 10-15 minutes here and there will do a world of good.
Safe & Healthy Travels!
Use Coupon Code: BIZ_TRAV for a 35% discount on our already low monthly or annual membership rates. Coupon code expires 8/31/12.
Other Resources on Travel & Work Health, Low Back Pain: