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Staying Fit on the Road

Whether you're a frequent business traveler or heading out on a family vacation, leaving town doesn't have to wreak havoc with your fitness routine.

"The key to taking workouts on the road successfully is learning to be flexible," says Therese Iknoian, M.S. "A little planning before you pack your briefcase or family car goes a long way toward avoiding frustration and setbacks in your hard-earned fitness."

To return a happy camper, Ms. Iknoian suggests you cut back, plan ahead, pack right and work out smart.

Cut back

Don't panic if you can't get to the gym or a workout as often as you do at home. Research shows you can reduce the frequency and length of your workouts by one- to two-thirds if you maintain the intensity.

  • How often? If you normally work out every other day, or three to four days a week, aim for two or three days a week.

  • How long? If you're caught in a time crunch, don't fret if you can't squeeze in a 30- or 45-minute aerobic workout. Make it 15 to 20 minutes, instead.

  • How hard? Here's how to maintain your condition even when you're forced to cut back: Don't dawdle. Those shorter, less frequent workouts need to be at least as intense as you manage at home. To maintain strength, try to do a weight-training workout once a week.

Plan ahead

Now that you're breathing easier about how much you need to do, it's time to plan how and when you're going to do it.

"This could be the most important part of your preparation to stay in shape," says Ms. Iknoian. "You'll need a few minutes with a calendar and your schedule on the road, and also time for a few telephone calls or Internet searches."

  • If you can afford it, schedule a few sessions with a personal trainer before you leave to brainstorm how you can work out while you're away, and to plan a good routine you can do in a hotel room.

  • Call the hotel before you leave to find out whether it has a fitness center and what the hours are. Also ask if the hotel has an agreement with a nearby gym that guests can use.

  • Before you leave, get maps of the city you'll visit to find parks, recreation areas or fitness trails close to where you'll be staying so you can get out for a walk or run.

  • When traveling with your family, look for chances to rent bikes, skates or paddleboats. Perhaps you could take a brisk hike or play a long game of tag.

Pack right

Never assume you won't be able to get in a workout. If the opportunity arises, you'll kick yourself (that doesn't count as exercise) if you don't have the right shoes or clothes with you.

  • Keep a pair of running shoes and a simple set of workout clothes in your briefcase, or carry an extra bag. You never know if you'll be able to skip a meeting or exercise at lunch one day.

  • Invest in a portable music player. Your favorite music can be a motivating lifesaver for a pumping workout in your room.

  • Don't forget exercise bands or tubing for resistance work.

Work out smart

  • Make use of halls in a hotel or convention center. Try some calisthenics on landings between floors, or use the stairs for step-ups.

"Creativity and flexibility will help you return home in shape," says Ms. Iknoian. "Now, hit the road."