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Simple Workouts to Stay Fit on the Road

Overcome Obstacles, 10 Minutes at a Time

But what about your motivation, which seems to have been misplaced along with your luggage?

Time, stress, and fatigue are the main obstacles to exercising, says Kara I. Gallagher, PhD, assistant professor of exercise physiology at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.

"If you think you have time constraints, it can get bigger and bigger, and there's no amount of motivation to overcome that," says Gallagher, who is also a spokeswoman for the American College of Sports Medicine.

The best strategy, she says, is to stop telling yourself that you must devote an hour to exercise -- "break it up into 10-minute intervals" -- or that you must maintain the same routine you do at home.

As for stress, conquer it by recommitting to your goal.

"When you're not stressed, write down very specific reasons for exercising," says Gallagher. When you're just too tired, remind yourself that a little exercise will give you a boost.

"Psychologically, it also helps if you have a companion," says Gallagher. If you're traveling for business, find a co-worker who will go to the hotel gym or pool. If you're a houseguest, offer to walk your host's dog.

What Happens if You Slack Off?

OK, you had the best intentions, but you didn't manage to exercise at all during your trip. What will happen to your body?

If it's only been a week, don't worry, says Gallagher.

"Most changes in terms of aerobic fitness happen at about 12 days without activity," she says. "[The] body's ability to deliver oxygen efficiently goes down, and they'd find that doing the same exercise they'd been doing would leave them a lot more winded."

In terms of strength training, a decline begins after about two weeks.

"The magnitude of de-training is determined by how long they've been exercising," says Gallagher. "If they've been weight training for several years they'd see less difference than somebody who had just started."

Exercising Back Home

Now that you're home, work moves to the front burner, the dog can't see through the shaggy growth over his eyes, and, darn the luck, the kids' movie is still in the theaters.

"Your workload increases dramatically when you get back because of all the things you couldn't handle while you were away." Gallagher says. "You feel you don't have time to devote to exercise."

The problem is compounded if you got out of the exercise habit while you were on the road. "We know the more consistent and regular people are with behaviors, the more likely they are to stick with them," Gallagher says.

So how do you get back in the groove? Set your alarm 30 minutes early and exercise first thing in the morning before the day gets away from you, says Gallagher. "Get in your exercise, even if it's a shorter session."

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Reviewed on November 17, 2006

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