30 July 2011

Two ways to handle travel fatigue

Sitting in an aircraft, then being stuck in a hotel room can make you feel less than human. The last thing you might feel like doing is exercising.


You’re at one of Santiago’s thousands of hotels, having just jetted in from Rome. Your client called politely asked if you’d like a free evening to rest before meeting his project team for breakfast.

You and your colleague sat together on the long flight. You both feel jet-lagged and saddle-sore, with gritty eyes and an overdose of airline food. He’s announced he’s going to have a long shower, get a steak and a brace of cold beers from room service and watch some TV.

Channel flipping no relaxation
It’s tempting to grab the TV remote and channel flip for a few hours, dozing fitfully or staring dumbly at the screen, knowing you won’t remember one nanosecond of whatever Steven Segal fistic fest you’re watching.

This might qualify as “unwinding from the long journey”, but it won’t really make you feel any better. Luckily you had a little forethought and are able capitalise on the free time you’re allocated to refresh your mind and body.

Exercises to beat travel fatigue

  • You leave your colleague to his reverie and open your suitcase. In it you have your running kit and a set of exercise bands. You get into some running togs and before putting on your shoes you do some stretching exercises. These are important because you’ve been cramped in economy class for hours. A classic footballer’s stretch is always a good staple: Stand with your ankles crossed – it sounds daft, but you can do it, clasp your hands behind your back and lower them, bending at the knees and waist until your hands nearly reach your ankles. Straighten up slowly.
  • You sit on the floor with your legs straight ahead of you, reach for your toes and lean forwards. You can hear your hamstrings singing like a heavenly choir.
  • Eschewing the hotel lift, you trot down the fire escape – it’s only 18 floors. By the time you reach the lobby you’ve warmed up nicely. The afternoon sun lances through the smog between the buildings. Buses growl, inhaling commuters and exhaling fumes. Having asked the concierge for directions, you find a lake with a jogging path. You run for 20 minutes, building up a sweat, then head back..
  • Rather than run all 18 floors back up, you run up the stairs until you can feel your temples pounding, then you take the lift the rest of the way. The exercise bands you’ve brought are like weights machines, allowing you to do resistance training. Considering that they weigh virtually nothing, they’re surprisingly effective.
  • You finish off your workout by doing some crunches and push-ups on the hotel room floor. Four sets of 30 of each shows you’re in good shape and by the end of it you’re sweaty. Out of the running gear and into the shower. With the sweat washed off, you slug down half a bottle of mineral water, then get into some swimming trunks and head for the hotel’s indoor pool for a dip. You’ve already had your workout, so rather than trying to prove you’re a sprint swimmer you cruise around demurely, feeling the pleasant ache in your muscles.

Time to relax
Back to the hotel room for a soak in the bath. Some of the sandalwood and lemon grass essential oils you’ve brought along help make the bathwater a balmy cocoon. Because you know air-conditioning systems in aircraft and big buildings can dry you out, you keep sipping at your mineral water and when you get out of the bath you give yourself a rub-down with some aqueous cream..

The hotel’s restaurant serves some grilled fish with a big, leafy salad, a baked potato and a glass of red wine. No coffee, thanks.

Back in your room you munch several dolomite tablets and some vitamin C. In the morning you’ll start with a zinc tablet and some more water, before having a multivitamin with your high-fibre cereal.

You turn out the light then look for sources of light that could keep you awake. Your laptop’s charging and the TV set has a pilot light. Both are easily sorted out.

Time to sleep. In the morning your colleague will feel like he’s been hit by Steven Segal and won’t understand why you’re so perky. But that’s life.

(William Smook, Health24, July 2011)


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