Pack Fitness into Your Travels

Whether you’re traveling by train, plane or automobile, traveling offers time to slip in some energizing and cancer-preventive physical activity.

car travel mapIt’s mid-holiday season and chances are, you have plenty more people to see and festivities to travel to. Along with the anxiety, traveling typically involves a lot of waiting and sitting–not the best manner in which to follow AICR’s cancer prevention guidelines. AICR’s Second Expert Report, released last month, found that physical activity reduces cancer risk on its own while helping to maintain a healthy weight, which is also cancer protective.

The report’s findings led AICR to recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day to ward off cancer and other chronic diseases. Moderate activity is considered any activity in which you experience some increase in breathing or heart rate.

So how do you accomplish this healthful feat while traveling? Here are a few ideas that can help you add physical activity in the midst of your travels — whatever your mode of transportation.


  • Wall Slides–Where there’s an empty wall, there’s a toning exercise waiting, this one for the thighs (quadriceps). Stand with your back against the wall and your shoulders square. Slowly bend your knees and slide down the wall until your knees are at a 45-degree angle. Hold the position for about 5 to 10 seconds. Slowly slide back up the wall. Repeat.
  • Plies (pronounced PLEE-ase)–Find a corner in the terminal and you’re ready to work your inner thighs. Stand up straight with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders and your toes facing off to either side. Bend your knees (but not past your toes), keeping your back straight and your knees pressing back. When you feel tightness in your inner thigh, hold the position for 5 seconds. Rise slowly and repeat.


  • Stair Climbing–Waiting for a train means there’s time to tone up your thigh and buttock muscles with a flight of steps. Warm up with a walk around the station or a slow climb on the stairs. Increase your climbing pace for multiple flights or up and down the same stairways. If needed, take a break by slowing your pace for a flight before continuing at a brisker rate of climbing.
  • Walking–Studies continuously find that walking provides multiple health benefits and long train corridors offer a weather-safe venue. Stand straight, grab some water and a watch, and start moving. Begin at a comfortable pace and when warmed up, increase your speed. You can also try alternating between a slower and speedier pace every few minutes. And if you really want to increase your activity level–and do not embarrass easily – you could skip down the corridors.

Automobiles (passengers only!)

  • Bicep Toning–Use traditional dumbbells or anything that has weight, such as water bottles. Keep your feet flat on the floor and shoulders back. Hold the weights at your sides and slowly bend one elbow with your palm towards you until you lift the weight to your chest. Slowly lower your arm to previous position. Alternate with the other arm 8 to 10 times each.
  • Jumping RopeJumping Rope–Toss a rope in your bag and get ready to release some pent-up energy during those pit stops. Jumping rope burns some serious calories, working the muscles throughout your body. Start off ‘skipping’ rope if necessary. This is a high-impact exercise so you might want to also pack an exercise mat to lessen strain on your joints.

However you are traveling, if it involves sitting (and it will) you can also try:

  • Butt-Squeezes–Sit up straight and squeeze your buttocks, holding for 10 to 20 seconds.  Release and repeat. 
  • Ab Clenches–Keep up that straight posture and press your lower back into the seat while you contract your ab muscles. Hold from 10 to 30 seconds and repeat.
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