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Exercise Tips For Travelers

Author: Stan Reents, PharmD
Original Posting: 05/06/2007 07:14 AM
Last Revision: 06/25/2019 07:18 AM

Do you travel frequently? And, are you frustrated by how all that travel affects your exercise routine?

If so, here are some suggestions:

First, pick up the book Fitness For Travelers - The Ultimate Workout Guide For The Road by Suzanne Schlosberg, in cooperation with the American Council on Exercise ( Schlosberg is a health and fitness writer and a frequent contributor to SHAPE magazine. But her most impressive credential (in my opinion) is that she has cycled across the country....twice!

I really like this book. It's comprehensive enough (191 pages) to cover lots of material, yet small enough to fit into a briefcase or purse. Schlosberg offers practical suggestions to typical obstacles such as:

• Not enough time to exercise: Possible solutions include exercising first thing in the morning, doing your work-related reading while riding an exercise bike, and, simply not cramming so much work into each day. Plan your day so that there is time for exercise.

• Jet lag: Jet lag can really make you feel lethargic. Here, the strategy is to plan your flights so that you arrive in your destination city in the early evening, if at all possible. Other strategies that help, according to Schlosberg, are to drink enough water, and to not start your trip sleep-deprived.


In 2006, Athletic-Minded Traveler released a list of the top hotel-based fitness centers.  They visited more than 3000 hotels and conducted anonymous tours.  Selection criteria included fitness size, equipment, work-out options (eg., lap pool, sport court, etc.), and atmosphere.  Their Top 10 selections are listed below:

  1. Houstonian (Houston)
  2. Park Hyatt at Bellevue (Philadelphia)
  3. Four Seasons (San Francisco)
  4. Embassy Suites Lakefront (Chicago)
  5. Venetian (Las Vegas)
  6. Bellevue Club (Bellevue, WA)
  7. Inn at Ponte Vedra (Ponte Vedra Beach, FL)
  8. Grand Hotel (Minneapolis)
  9. JW Marriott (Orlando)
  10. Ritz Carlton Boston Common (Boston)


But what if your hotel doesn't have a fitness room? This should never be an excuse for not exercising. Here are some suggestions:

Use the pool

If the hotel has a pool, you can do laps....assuming it is big enough. Or, consider using the pool for aquatic exercises. For example, running in chest-deep water is a tremendous work-out. You can also do Tai-Chi, or more vigorous martial arts moves in a pool.

In Your Hotel Room

• Bring some exercise gear with you, such as a jump rope, springs, or exercise bands (see below). Even without exercise gear, you can always do push-ups, crunches, squats, and flexibility and stretching exercises in your room.

• Do you have a back-pack? You can stuff bottles of water or heavy books inside it to increase the load when you do squats, lunges, or push-ups.

• For weights, ask the kitchen for some empty plastic jugs. You can fill them with water. One liter of water weighs 2.2 lbs. One gallon of water weighs 8.3 lbs. If it's a gallon jug with a handle, you can use this as a dumbbell. If you have several, you can loop your belt through the handles to increase the weight. For smaller bottles, stuff several of them into a plastic bag with handles to create enough weight.

• For dips and push-ups, you could use the seats of 2 sturdy chairs, or even the edge of the bed for this, too.

• Ask the hotel concierge if they can provide a personal trainer. The trainer can bring some work-out gear and/or give you a personal session.


Find a local gym: If you find yourself in a hotel with no facilities, then find a local gym. Many health clubs now allow individual visits from non-members for a small fee. According to the web site (accessed June 25, 2019), in 2015 there were more than 186,000 fitness centers worldwide. The US has more fitness centers than any other country on earth: 38,477 (2017 data). Brazil has over 30,000 fitness centers, while Canada and the UK each have just over 6000. Several web sites for finding health clubs are listed at the end of this review.

Find a local track: If you like running on a track, see if there is a high school or college campus near by.

Walk! You can always walk. In your hotel, you can walk the stairs. In the airport, walk up and down your concourse until your flight begins boarding.


Bringing some fitness gear with you may help motivate you when you may not feel like exercising. Schlosberg lists some gear for travelers:

  • your running shoes, or other shoes you workout in
  • quick-dry clothing
  • a small gym bag for sweaty clothes
  • fitness bands
  • a pedometer
  • a portable music device like an iPod
  • a lock

• Fit Kit: The Fit Kit ($44.99) is a small but versatile kit that allows you to perform cardio, strength, and flexibility exercises. It contains an exercise band, a resistance tube, a jump rope, a door attachment, a reflective arm band, and an ID tag. And it's easy to take with you when you travel.


In summary, there's no excuse for not exercising while on the road. All you need is some imagination and a little planning. Just remember to not jam your daily schedule so full that you have to cheat yourself on sleep to find the time to exercise.


Web Sites for Finding Hotels With Gyms

As a follow-up to their best-selling book "The Athletic-Minded Traveler", Jim Kaese and Paul Huddle launched For $19.95/yr, you can find fitness-oriented hotels, health clubs, running routes, etc., in various US cities.

Web Sites for Finding Airports With Gyms is a useful resource. It was launched in 2002. It is a free web site and survives on donations. It lists not only gyms inside airports, but, also, gyms near airports like Bally's, Gold's, LA Fitness, and 24-Hour Fitness, and smaller gyms, too. As of June 2019, their database includes 190 gyms in the US and 13 gyms in Canada. Only airports in the US and Canada were included in the database.

Web Sites for Finding Local Gyms

Several web sites have search tools that help you find a health club:

• The best web site I have found for searching gyms is By entering a zip code, you can obtain a list of facilities within 30 miles of the center point for that zip code. Their database contains over 20,000 facilities, the largest and most accurate database of fitness centers in the US.

24-Hr Fitness has more than 400 locations in 18 states. Their web site has a search tool. You can enter your zip code and find clubs nearby. is a web site maintained by IHRSA. This web site has a club-finder feature, though it only lists clubs that participate in the IHRSA Passport Program. You must be a member of this program. is the web site for the YMCA.

Web Sites for Finding Swimming Pools

• If you want to find a place to swim, even if it's in a hotel or public park, then check out This site has a mind-boggling database of more than 26,000 swimming pools around the world (site accessed June 25, 2019). The web site first went online in 1996. The database was initially published in book format in 1993 and 1995.

Web Sites for Finding a Health Spa

Fit Stays ( was launched in 2018. It provides a directory of roughly 100 fitness resorts, diet retreats, health spas, and yoga/wellness retreats in the US (web site accessed June 24, 2019). The facilities can be searched by type or by location. A detailed profile on each facility is provided, including programs offered, pricing, and pros and cons.

Books for Travelers

• Schlosberg's Fitness For Travelers - The Ultimate Workout Guide For The Road provides exercise routines for aquatic exercise, climbing the hotel stairs, and even rope jumping. It contains dozens of photos showing various exercises. It was published in 2002 but it's still a useful resource.

Eating On The Run by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD, packs a ton of information on hotels and fast-food franchises into 216 pages.

These and other books are reviewed in our Book Reviews section.

Readers may also be interested in these reviews:


Stan Reents, PharmD, is available to speak on this and many other exercise-related topics. (Here is a downloadable recording of one of his Health Talks.) He also provides a one-on-one Health Coaching Service. Contact him through the Contact Us page.


Stan Reents, PharmD, is a former healthcare professional. He is a member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) and a member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). In the past, he has been certified as a Health Fitness Specialist by ACSM, as a Certified Health Coach by ACE, as a Personal Trainer by ACE, and as a tennis coach by USTA. He is the author of Sport and Exercise Pharmacology (published by Human Kinetics) and has written for Runner's World magazine, Senior Softball USA, Training and Conditioning and other fitness publications.

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