When work requires travel, the change in routine can affect our health in many ways. Options for what to eat and drink and how we exercise can become challenges. Sleep can be affected on overnight stays. Travel itself can be mentally and physically exhausting. So what are some of the best ways to ensure we have the energy we need to meet the tasks at hand, let alone take care of our overall health and well-being?

Develop a Set of Principles

Boulder, CO-based fitness trainer Devin Perreault recommends setting a good system in place to take care of the essentials, whether you are at home or on the road. He said, “Whatever you do at home, have a way to still enact it on the road. Develop a set of principles: Did you move today? Did you eat vegetables? Did you have lean protein at every meal?”

Advance planning is key. Even if the only available option for eating out is a hamburger and fries, Perreault said, “You’ll need to maintain same kind of meal structure and regular movement practice [as at home] so that you can be consistent, even if your life is not consistent.” Perreault said this might mean packing some powdered green supplements or packaged protein to have alongside the travel fare.

It also means planning ahead for any free time you might have. Instead of watching cable TV in the hotel room, try a walk outside, laps around the lobby, or spending even a little time in the hotel fitness area. Even if that sounds exhausting at the end of a long travel day or a day spent in a windowless conference room, take baby steps to get some fresh air. Once you start moving you may find that “energy begets energy.”

In addition to eating and exercising, good sleep habits are important. Sleep can be tough in strange environments when our habits are disrupted. Of course, what we eat and how we move can affect our sleep, too. So, focus on the inputs you can most easily control.

Warning Signals

Perreault noted that our bodies send out many warning signals to tell us when we need to make an adjustment. He suggested that signals may include:

· An impact on appearance: Have you noticed any weight gain, changes in your skin tone, or circles under eyes?

· Once-easy tasks becoming harder: Do you become winded easily and/or do your muscles become sore?

· Loss of energy: Do you run or move your body as well as in the past?

If exercise has become infrequent, the signals above can serve as a wake-up call to let you know that things have changed, and what you are doing might be detrimental to your health in the long run.

Perreault said, “If I’m not sleeping as well or if I’m not exercising on a regular basis, I become more irritable. I’m a patient person, but if I’m not myself, I have to get back to the things that make me sane. That keeps me a happy person.”

To feel happier and more productive, develop a set of wellness principles for yourself that you can execute whether on the road or at home. And if your routines start to slip, listen to the warning signals your body shares with you and pivot quickly back to the things you do to keep yourself at the top of your game.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Originally published at medium.com


  • Heather Bowen Ray

    Consultant and technical advisor for behavior-related health and wellness programs. Insatiably curious about social psychology and social change.

    Thrive Global

    Heather is a healthy habits coach and consultant to behavior-related health and wellness programs. She works with inspiring individuals who are working hard to overcome specific barriers to change. Heather's experience includes in-house and on-call work for advertising and communications agencies and stems from a 15+ year social change career based in Washington DC. She has instructed university-level communications courses and has trained hundreds of professionals and university students. She earned an MS in Marketing at Johns Hopkins University and a BS in Journalism from the University of Kansas. She contributes to Thrive Global and is a Precision Nutrition certified level one coach (PN1). Heather lives and works in Boulder, Colorado.