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posted: 11/5/2012 6:00 AM

How to stay fit while traveling

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  • Resistance band exercises: middle, back and shoulder stretch

    Resistance band exercises: middle, back and shoulder stretch

  • Resistance band exercises: reverse fly

    Resistance band exercises: reverse fly

  • Resistance band exercises: bicep curl

    Resistance band exercises: bicep curl

  • Resistance band exercises: lateral raise

    Resistance band exercises: lateral raise

By Sally Anderson
Tampa Bay Times

Don't fall off the fitness bandwagon.

It takes longer to gain fitness than to lose it, and you can quickly lose all of your hard-earned fitness gains if you stop exercising completely.

How quickly you lose aerobic and strength fitness varies -- it really depends on how fit you are to begin with, and how long you stop exercising.

For some, the loss of endurance will benoticed in about 12 days after eliminating cardio exercise. For strength training, a decline in your level of conditioning can be noticed in approximately two weeks. Flexibility decline is the winner -- or perhaps the loser -- when you abstain from your exercise routine; it decreases with just one week of inactivity.

So don't stop exercising while traveling. Here are some tips:

Fitness does not have to become a lost cause when you take a break and head out for an extended vacation. There are many creative and easy ways to keep those feel-good endorphins active.

For starters, wear your walking shoes so you will be ready to take advantage of delayed flights or, if you are traveling by car, take breaks for brief walks and stretches.

When packing for your trip, include a few basic light and packable pieces of exercise equipment that don't take up much space in the suitcase, such as lightweight jump ropes and resistance bands. The bands, made of strong rubber, vary in resistance from light to heavy and can provide a workout for every muscle in your body.

If you're headed to a warm climate, you might want to pack aquatic gloves along with your swimsuit for a water workout.

Hotel room exercises

• Don't think in terms of an hour workout. After all, this is your vacation time. Instead, go for 10-minute segments throughout the day, building toward 30 minutes. Save the longer workouts for when you return home.

• Warm up with five minutes of light jogging or marching in place.

• Jump rope or simply pretend you are using a rope.

• Jog in place, lifting knees as high as you can, while pumping your arms.

• Mountain climbers: With legs staggered, jump or shuffle feet back and forth, continuing to alternate feet. Hold onto a dresser or desk if you need support.

• Mogul jumps: With feet together, jump side to side, always landing with bent knees.

• Jumping jacks or modified jacks, where you relax knees and step-touch side to side, raising arms shoulder height, but no jumping.

To save time, there are many multi-muscle exercises you can do. You will be working more than one muscle group at a time, such as with pushups, which would strengthen upper body and core muscles. Don't forget there are such things as wall pushups, if you don't want to go on the floor.

Performing squats (pretending you are sitting in a chair) will work most all lower-body muscles.

Resistance bands offer no specific weight, but you can feel tension on the band, and if you perform them correctly, you can create resistance from many angles.

Exercises while flying

Help rev up your circulation while confined in the sky by trying these:

• Heel raises: Keeping balls of feet on floor, raise heels using the calf muscles. Hold five seconds before lowering heels.

• Toe raises: Planting heels on floor, raise toes as high as you can. Hold five seconds, then lower.

• Ankle circles: Stretch legs out under the seat in front of you. Lift one leg, rotating ankle inward, drawing a circle eight times; reverse circle, rotating ankle outward. Repeat.

• Point/flex: Point toes downward, then upward. You will be stretching the front of the leg with the pointed toes and back of leg with flexed foot.

• Squeeze tennis ball: Do this or at least pretend you are doing it, opening and closing your fists.

• Abdominal exercise: Contract abdominal muscles, holding a few seconds, then release. This can be performed while standing or sitting.

• Shoulder shrugs: Raise shoulders up and down slowly, making a circular motion, rolling them forward then to the back.

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