A PET peeve of business travel is that it sometimes leaves you with no room to work out. Or even play tourist.
Long days become even longer nights. Endless meetings and conferences dont end without the obligatory thank you dinners and drinks.
By the time youre done exhausted, stressed and glaze-eyed all you want to do is hop right into bed. Forget exercising.
For many travellers, the lack of energy to do anything extra beyond the work itinerary is often the reason they overlook working out.
But according to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, lack of exercise actually leads to decreased energy levels.
You want to reverse it, pencil in a workout. Not only can exercise boost your energy level, it also improves your concentration (a plus in meetings), improve your vitality and help manage the waistline especially in light of all the work dinners youve to attend.
The key to making staying fit on the road successful is this: Make it feel less like a workout and more fun in the sun. Lets be honest.
Even the most hardcore fitness enthusiast struggles sometimes to get into the right frame of mind to keep to routine while travelling.
Waking up way before dusk on a dark, cold winter morning to do a solitary treadmill run when everyone else is asleep is nobodys idea of fun.
But what if you can combine a (fun) cardio workout with a cultural experience?
Running or jogging tours have become great options to sneak in a workout while on the road.
Theyre not only great for working out a sweat, but also let you squeeze in some downtime to take in the citys sights.
The tours are found in many major cities such as Rome, Paris, Shanghai, New York and London. They are standard tours you can sign up for or customise your own to fit your preferred distance and sights to see.
Hope Sloly of City Jogging Tours (www.cityjoggingtours.co.uk) in London says: Approximately half of our clients are business travellers and they usually opt for the customised option.
The longest run the company has made to date was 32km, which Hope says is suitable for someone whos training for a marathon and still wants to get some last minute sights.
But even if youre not a runner, dont fret. Gentle joggers are also welcome.
No one is left behind, Hope assures, and our guide will always run at the pace of the slowest runner. We make regular stops to admire the views, take photos and drink water while the guide gives further information on the historical aspects, so the tours really are suitable for all levels.
For one business executive, joining a running tour also helps her map the town and familiarise herself with the citys layout.
Youre in a new place. The runs help me note where the banks are in case I need to use it, subways, 24-hour shops things that I may need later.
Running with a guide also helps her get local insights, such as where the best fish and chips shop is in London and most importantly, provides her with a safe run as opposed to running alone.
In the US, City Running Tours (www.cityrunningtours.com) offers runs in major US cities, including New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, San Francisco, Seattle and Boston. Says founder Michael Gazaleh: Our guides are people who live, work, run and play in the city so we do our best to give recommendations of things to do to our clients so they can take full advantage of their time in the city.
In New York, for example, City Running Tours takes runners through many of Manhattans hotspots and the best is their insider knowledge of routes across Central Park that lets you experience the city in a new light.
Runners also get insider tips on where to get the best pizza in town, to the best time to go to a museum or where to go to listen to live music over the weekend.
Clients come back to me with such gratitude of how much we added to their trip, Gazaleh says.
For jet laggers, UnTour Shanghai (untourshanghai.com) has a 10km Blade Runner Nights option, which they say is the best remedy for those who cant sleep.
This evening run, guided by experienced runners, will take you through many famous neon-lit Shanghai icons, past locals clad in pajamas, and alleys still active and alive way past sundown.
The guides also provide a great commentary, giving you a feel of the city beyond a tourists perception.
Taking in the sights aside, the virtues of running are endless.
Running stretches the muscles (great after a long flight in) and releases endorphins, making you feel more energetic.
When you have higher levels of endorphins in your system, youre less likely to feel sluggish until its time to sleep, says personal trainer and MetConX founder, Daniel Daing Fitri.
Itll help you adjust to your time zones better too and thats the best way to overcome jet lag, says Daniel, who is better known as Coach Dan.
Another appealing aspect of running tours is the ease in which it takes to do it. Running requires little more than a decent pair of trainers.
They easily go even into an overnight bag. Just remember that a running tour is not a race. You set the pace and run at leisure.
Take the time to see the sights, experience the city and work out some sweat. Youll be amazed at why youd never thought of it before.
Anis Ramli is a freelance travel writer always on the lookout for creative ways to turn her hotel room into a fitness facility.
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