It’s hard to believe it, but the holidays are upon us. This joyful time of year usually comes with delicious food, a disruption in routine, and travel. Not every airport you pass through will be lucky enough to have a yoga room, and time or space may be an issue. For people living with chronic pain who manage their pain with exercise, this can wreak havoc, but never fear. Here are our 14 favorite ways to get your workout in while you’re on the road.

1. Cross train

If your workout routine includes a very specific spin class three days a week, mix it up by finding a different option when you reach your destination. Cross training helps prevent repetitive motion injuries and can reinvigorate your normal workout.

2. Change how you think about working out

Holiday times (and travel in general) can be very stressful. While a good workout can help alleviate that stress, worrying because it is not your normal level of intensity is not necessarily helpful. Instead of viewing your workout as something on the to-do list or having specific ideas of what a workout is (i.e., sweating buckets at a Bikram studio), change your mind about working out. A long afternoon walk or snowball fight counts as physical activity even if it’s not your usual level of intensity. Enjoy spending time in your body in a different way.

3. Drop in somewhere new

If you are missing the smell of the gym or yoga studio, look into dropping in with a guest pass at a local facility. Many gyms and studios have guest classes and passes for greatly reduced prices with no commitments.

4. Utilize the hotel facility

This may seem like a no-brainer, but most hotel workout rooms are surprisingly empty. If you have a long day ahead and will need an extra burst of energy to get through it, grab a big bottle of water, hotel towel, and head down to the elliptical for a little pre-breakfast workout.

5. Use your time wisely

Let’s face it: holiday travel delays are one of the only guaranteed things in life. Spend that time in airports during layovers stretching. The entire back can suffer terribly from lumpy beds, narrow airline seats, and hard plastic waiting area chairs. Stretch your upper and lower back to relieve pain and make the wait pass by a little more quickly.

6. Stick to your normal routine

This can be very difficult, but if you have the discipline and the drive to do it, get up every morning for your regular 6 a.m. run. Visit the local gym three times while you are on the road. For some people, keeping with the routine is the only way they manage to stay focused. In this case, best to stick with what works.

7. Plan ahead

Especially if you are going with #6, plan ahead when you travel. Do some research to find a gym near where you are staying or a yoga studio that offers the style of class you prefer.

8. Force yourself by paying in advance

If you are going somewhere bright and sunny near the water, schedule and pay for a kayak tour or a stand-up paddleboard rental. Commit to a local class by signing up online and paying in advance. Because these things will be paid for and waiting when you arrive at your destination you may be more likely to show up.

9. Walk everywhere

When possible, skip the subway and hit the bricks. Walking is a great way to explore a city or town. You see things you might otherwise miss when you are looking for parking or attempting to navigate an unfamiliar city. Walking is an activity available to everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. Pack supportive shoes and walk every day.

10. Stop, drop, and yoga

Yoga emphasizes lengthening and strengthening the body while focusing the mind. No need to pop up into a handstand or drop into a backbend to access these benefits. Simple yoga postures combined with deep, even breathing can invigorate the body and calm the mind anywhere.

11. Be mindful of your limits

Sometimes travel can make us push ourselves in ways that aren’t beneficial. Maybe that touch football game turned into tackle, or maybe you were trying too hard to keep up with your big sister on that morning run. Whatever the case may be, know that it is really okay to say no and to take some time off to rest. Give yourself permission to take it easy, especially if you are working with a chronic pain condition.

12. Pack portable workout gear

Resistance bands are small and take up very little room in a suitcase. These can act as a substitute for weight lifting and other strength-training while you are traveling. Many exercises using these stretchy bands can be done anywhere (i.e., at rest stops or when a flight is delayed).

13. There’s an app for that

Want to get a daily workout in just seven minutes? Download the popular high intensity interval training workout aptly named the 7-minute workout for a complete, whole-body workout that takes less time to complete than your shower.

14. When all else fails, meditate

Even before all else fails, meditating in a great way to manage stress and pain while on the road. Taking a few moments to sit quietly, just breathing and focusing on that breath, can change your entire outlook for the trip. Mediation is a workout for the mind, just as essential as getting the heart rate up.

How do you squeeze in a workout when you’re on the road?

Image by Mike Procario via Flickr


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