How to Exercise While in a Hotel without a Gym or Pool
Getting exercise while traveling for business can be a real challenge - we are often limited to exercising in our hotel room. If you have a choice, then choose a hotel that has a gym or a pool, even if it means spending a little bit more money. But if you don't have that option, then it is helpful to have a program you can do safely in your room or on the hotel premises when exercise outside is not possible.
Aerobic activity, or cardio, is one that raises your heart rate and keeps it raised for the duration of the activity. Moderate intensity activity will increase your heart rate to 50% - 70% of your maximum, whereas vigorous intensity will raise it to 70% - 85% of your maximum heart rate. A rough estimation of one's maximum HR is 220 – age in years. In the case of a 50 year old, their estimated maximum heart rate is 170 beats per minute (BPM) and they would aim for a heart rate of 85 – 120 BPM for moderate intensity or 121 – 145 BPM for vigorous intensity exercise. Here are some ideas on how to get aerobic activity when stuck in your room or limited to the hallways and stairwells.
Cardio in the building:
- Walk the hallways of each floor of the hotel, including walking up the flight of stairs between each floor.
- For a higher intensity workout, simply walk up and down all flights of stairs (don't take a break by walking the hallways).
- If you are very fit then you might consider going up the stairs by two steps or even running up the stairs.
Cardio in the hotel room:
-Dancing - move both your legs and arms. For inspiration or motivation, use dance or Zumba DVDs.
-Marching - lift the knees, move your arms above your heart, and move across the room.
-For higher intensity exercise (and if you are in a street-level room with no guests below you), then consider jogging or running in place, dancing with more jumping, skipping rope, or run a calisthenics routine without rest stops.
-Quickly roll back and forth on a king-sized bed.
-Although jumping on the bed would be a fun way to get cardio, I would not recommend it if you want to avoid extra room charges!
Weight Resistance Exercises
Strength training in a hotel room is especially challenging if you are very strong since you have to rely on using your own body weight to provide the resistance. This can increase the risk of injuring your hands or wrists. However, for most of us, the task is a bit easier since less resistance needs to be applied to get a challenge (because we are not that strong). To get the most out of your workout, especially if time is short, choose exercises that use multiple muscle groups simultaneously (compound exercises) over those that only work one muscle (isolated exercises). Here are some of my favorites:
Push-ups. If you have limited strength, then try knee push-ups or wall push-ups instead of traditional push-ups. If you are very strong, then try increasing the resistance by placing your feet on the bed and your hands on the floor.
Bent over rows with Aquabells (travel dumbbells). If you don't have travel dumbbells, then you can make some! Ask the hotel restaurant for two empty milk or juice containers (with caps) so that you can fill with water to use as dumbbells (gallon = 8 lbs, quart = 2 lbs). If you are fairly strong, then you might consider investing in a portable chin up bar so you can do pull-ups instead.
Squats & lunges. These are great for all-over lower body conditioning but be smart – make sure you use good form to avoid knee and back injury. Check out safety videos on squats and lunges.
Abdominal exercises. These can be performed easily in your hotel room. For core exercises beyond the simple crunch, take a look at the Mayo Clinic's "Slide Show: Exercises to Improve Your Core Strength." Also, see MyNetDiary's post on core strength.
You might want to practice your routine at home before you "take it on the road." Ideally, have a trainer watch your form while executing new exercises.
Have questions or comments about this post? Please feel free to comment on MyNetDiary's Forum or the MyNetDiary Facebook page. I would love to hear from you!
Kathy Isacks, MPS, RD
Consulting Dietitian for MyNetDiary
Cameron McGarr, C.S.C.S. Men's Health. Who Needs a Gym?
CDC. Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate.
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD. MyNetDiary. Physical Activity.
Disclaimer: Please note that we cannot provide personalized advice and that the information provided does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit a medical professional.