Staying Healthy on the Road
If you travel, it can be especially tough to stay healthy. Many Shanghai expats travel a lot for work (and fun!) and keep busy schedules. Sometimes this leads to poor health and pain from an overly sedentary lifestyle. If you don’t make time to build in some movement and exercise, your body will pay for it in the long run. Here are some tips for staying healthy on the road and with a busy Shanghai lifestyle:
- Take advantage of the hotel gym or simply take a walk or jog to explore the area. Schedule some time in your day to do some exercise while traveling, even if it’s just 30-45 minutes.
- When on a plane or train, get up to stretch frequently. As you probably already know, moving the legs is especially important on long journeys when blood clots can develop.
- Find ways to get comfortable in the seat and shift positions regularly. You may want to stick a pillow behind your lower back, for example. Of course, it’s great if you can get an emergency exit row or an aisle seat so you can easily get up and down and have more room to stretch your legs.
- Incorporate movement in small ways throughout your day. Stuck at the airport? Walk around rather than sitting. Take phone calls while standing/walking. Take the stairs. Walk or take public transportation to your appointments (you’ll get a lot more exercise in the process of taking a subway or bus than being driven).
- Bring resistance bands along on trips. They’re easy to pack and you can do numerous exercises with them right in your hotel room (see below).
- Stay hydrated and try to bring some healthy snacks along. Avoid heavy meals where possible, especially late at night. If you tend to get stuck working late, have a few snacks so you can then just eat a light bite after work.
You can do a wide array of exercises with resistance bands. The extra resistance makes your routine more effective. Here are a few good resistance band exercises you can do while traveling (or anytime!):
#1: Put the band over the corner of a door you can close securely and grab with both hands (you may want to double wrap it around your hands). Pull your arms down to your pelvis with nearly straight elbows. Move your shoulders back and open up your chest against the resistance. Make sure to keep your neck in line with your shoulders (don’t let it go forward).Keep the position with your arms next to your body for 1-2 seconds and move slowly back into the starting position. Keep the elbows always nearly straight. Do 15 repetitions twice.
#2: Stand on the band, with feet a bit wider than hip width, and hold the ends in both hands. Arms should be straight in the starting position. Do simple squats and make sure your knees are above your toes. Your back should be moving straight forward and the neck is in one line with the thoracic and lumbar spine. Bending the hips and knees and moving forward with a straight back, move your bent elbows backwards also. At the end of the range of shoulder-arm movement, move your shoulder blades to the spine and move the shoulders back. Control the position in your neck and knees again. Then, you straighten your legs again and come back into an upright position. Relax your arms. Do 15 repetitions twice.
#3: Do big lunges. Your feet should be straight or in a slight outer rotation (3°).If you feel secure in this position, you can lift the heel of the back foot. Your bodyweight should be equally distributed on both legs. Make sure your knees are lined up with your pelvis and your hips are even. The elastic band is under your front foot and the ends are wrapped around your hands. Move down in the lunge keeping the weight equal on both legs and the pelvis straight, and then move your arms straight up. If possible, extend until your arms are beside your ears. In the ending position be sure that your core muscles keep the lower back straight. Do 15 repetitions twice.
Travel can be a nightmare for maintaining any kind of routine, including your fitness regimen. When travel is part of your life, it’s worth thinking about how you can make life on the road a bit healthier. If despite your efforts to stay active, you experience stiffness, muscle pain or back pain after extensive travels or wish to get medical guidance to train safely, contact Body & Soul to make an appointment for a comprehensive assessment. The multidisciplinary team offering a combination of osteopathy, physiotherapy, and chiropractic can be an excellent resource if you are dealing with such conditions.
Body & Soul combines Eastern medicine and Western science to provide the most natural, effective health solutions in four convenient locations throughout Shanghai. Services offered are covered by insurances and include TCM and acupuncture, rehabilitation, psychological counseling, podiatry and functional medicine among others. Follow them on Wechat for more health and wellness tips!