Mapping out a plan for getting exercise while on the road

Fitness Q & A

April 27, 2003|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

I've started traveling a lot for work and want to maintain my fitness on the road, but it's hard to motivate myself without the comforts of my home gym. Is it really possible to keep up an out-of-town exercise routine?

Absolutely, but it takes discipline. "Be prepared to adapt and be creative," says Liz Neporent, author of The Ultimate Body: 10 Perfect Workouts for Women. "If you're a runner and the only thing available is the bike -- guess what? You're biking today."

Making a commitment to exercising on the road is half the battle. Ask beforehand if your hotel has a gym, pack your favorite workout clothes and decide on a time of day to work in a routine. You may even be able to squeeze in your exercise at the airport (some hubs now have health clubs).

Being flexible is essential, so adapt to your surroundings. If your hotel is next to a college stadium, run the stairs. If you're staying someplace with great trails, go hiking before your morning meeting. Even if you are restricted to your hotel room (during a January conference in Buffalo, for instance), you can always do push-ups, sit-ups and stretching. Slip a jump rope in your suitcase for quick cardio anywhere.

Lately, I've been sluggish while exercising. I stopped eating red meat about three months ago. A friend suggested I may not be getting enough iron. What other foods can I eat to boost my iron intake?

Our bodies need iron for healthy red blood cells, which facilitate the circulation of oxygen. Red meat is the richest source of iron, and also the most readily absorbed source, but these five sources are good alternatives:

* Legumes (beans and peas)

* Cereal (iron-fortified, such as oatmeal)

* Leafy green vegetables

* Shellfish

* Dried fruit

Also, eating foods rich in vitamin C will help your body absorb iron from nonmeat sources more efficiently.

Although food is always the best source for iron, you may want to start taking an iron supplement. If your energy level doesn't improve within a few weeks, call your doctor. You may have iron-deficiency anemia, which is serious and needs to be treated.

My wife and I have three children, and buying sports equipment for them is becoming expensive. Any advice for finding high-quality second-hand gear?

Assuming you aren't hunting for highly specialized equipment, first check sporting-goods shops that sell used equipment. For anything from soccer balls to lacrosse nets, these stores usually have good inventories.

If you're looking for gear that requires sizing, shell out the extra cash for full-priced merchandise. Having ill-fitting equipment can lead to injuries.

Ask friends or neighbors with older children who have gone off to college or with children who have dropped a sport if they have any second-hand gear. Chances are they'll appreciate the help clearing out the basement. If you feel uncomfortable accepting expensive equipment, you can always offer to pay for it.

Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail

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