Staying Fit on the Road (Or in the Sky)

You CAN Stay Healthy & Fit on the Road You CAN Stay Healthy & Fit on the Road

For people who travel for work, maintaining a commitment to health and fitness is a challenge. Discover how even this airline pilot can stay healthy and fit on the road.


For those of us who travel for our jobs, maintaining a commitment to health and fitness can be a challenge.  For example, as an airline pilot, my schedule varies greatly from day to day, flying both mornings and nights. I also have layovers in many different cities and in different time zones around the world, making it difficult to eat well and exercise.  But with a little planning, I've learned some great ways to stay healthy, fit, and feeling great even on the road (or in the sky):


Carry plenty of healthy, travel friendly snacks like almonds, cashews, shelled sunflower seeds, dried blueberries and strawberries, and goji berries.  These foods can easily be carried in "zip-lock" type bags, will help boost your energy, and keep you satisfied between meals.  Avoid brands that add sweeteners, salt, and other flavorings or preservatives.

Before your trip, go online and search for restaurants that offer healthy choices and health food markets in the area you'll be traveling in.  I also take my own breakfast along which usually consists of homemade granola and orange juice.  Here is a tasty and healthy whole food granola recipe you'll love!

Sometimes business lunches or dinners are held at restaurants that do not offer many healthy choices.  In this situation, I try to eat a healthy snack before the meal so I'm not tempted to over indulge in high fat, high calorie, low nutrient food.

Choose a Hotel with an Adequate Gym
Choose Hotels with Adequate Gyms


If possible, choose hotels with adequate fitness centers with operating hours that fit your schedule.  Also, search online for parks, trails, or other areas near your hotel where you can run or walk.  Some cities even offer bike share programs that allow you to rent a bicycle for the day.  I've even done jumping jacks, stretches, lunges, toe-ups, and other exercises in my hotel room to get my heart rate up and boost my energy.


If you are not flying, carry plenty of water and other beverages such as 100% fruit or vegetable juices that are not from concentrate (make your own ahead of time with a juicer if possible).  I also like to carry high antioxident drinks like iced blueberry or strawberry green tea.

When flying, proper hydration is especially important because the air at altitude is much dryer and dehydration puts you at greater risk for a blood clot.  However, hydration can be somewhat difficult to plan for when flying since liquids are not allowed through security. Furthermore, once you are in the airport secure area, there aren't many healthy options.  Most airport shops do offer bottled water though, albeit at a premium price. So pay the premium and stay hydrated!

Avoid alcohol.  Travel can quickly take a toll on your body and mind. Disrupted sleep patterns, traffic, lines at the airport, and a thousand other travel related stressors can zap your energy fast.  To feel and perform your best, you want to put things into your body that build you up, not bring you down.  Also, when flying, the negative effects of alcohol are multiplied at altitude due to the reduction of oxygen.

Enjoy coffee --  when the time is right.  I love the smell and taste of a great cup of coffee.  However, just as with alcohol, I'm careful when and how often I drink it.  Enjoy a cup on some mornings, but be sure to stay hydrated with water and other healthy beverages.  Avoid coffee in the afternoons and evenings so that it doesn't hinder your sleep at night.  And keep in mind, for many people too much coffee can lead to an energy crash later, much like sugar.


In my family, our goal is integrate health and fitness into our daily lives and relationships.  When I'm traveling, I intentionally share my health and fitness victories and challenges with my family during our phone and texting conversations.  I encourage them and they encourage me.  This provides a great a great source of motivation!

Brian DeLay

Brian DeLay is an airline pilot living in the Midwest with his wife and three children. As an avid runner and cyclist he has completed numerous half-marathons, marathons, and cycling "century" rides, and serves as the race director for the Run for the Ridge 5K. His favorite activities are those he shares with his family. Visit Brian on Google+

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