Mon, Jan. 20

TOPS tips for keeping fit while you travel

In the new guidelines for maintaining good health released last month by the federal government, there was much information on diet, but we also heard the familiar word: exercise, exercise, exercise. As a nation, we need to get moving. To reduce risk of chronic disease the guidelines recommend 30 minutes of exercise most days; but to manage body weight and avoid unhealthy weight gain they recommend 60 minutes most days. To lose weight, 60 to 90 minutes of exercise daily are encouraged.

Fitting that in is challenge enough for those of us who stay close to home, but if you travel frequently, how do you make exercise part of your schedule?

TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) Club not only gives you ideas for following a healthy diet but also provides suggestions for maintaining your exercise regimen while away from home. TOPS consultant Amy Goldwater, B.S., physical fitness expert and educator, points out that keeping up your fitness routine on the road is important and can be done with a little creative planning:

• Investigate the resources at your destination. Are there safe and interesting places to walk outside? What about indoors?

• Are there fitness facilities where you're staying? If not, ask about privileges at a nearby fitness center. If you belong to a health club, see if it has a sister facility near where you'll be visiting.

• Check the TV listings for fitness programs or bring a favorite exercise video along.

• Pack comfortable clothes and gym shoes as well as a bathing suit for a calorie-burning swim in case there's a pool or a beach nearby.

• Keep your options open. You might be a runner or cyclist at home, but that doesn't mean you need to do the same workout on the road.

• If you don't have time for a full workout, remember the old stand-bys: walk instead of drive; take stairs instead of the elevator or escalator; and get up during long flights or meetings to stretch.

• In your room, try those old gym class exercises: wall sits, jumping jacks, squats, push-ups, chair dips. Resistance tubing or elastic exercise bands that tuck easily into a corner of your suitcase are a great way to work muscles without weights. You can find resistance bands at most sporting goods stores and discount mass merchandisers for less than ten dollars.

Use whatever ideas fit your style and schedule. Traveling doesn't have to disrupt your exercise plans or attempts at leading a healthy lifestyle.

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