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Frequent Flying

Most of us, at one time or another, have traveled for business. Some of us do this fairly often, and when we travel for business, we're usually getting where we're going by plane. Air travel used to be quick and easy. But lately, within the last ten years, maybe not so much. By now, we're used to long lines at security checkpoints, extended downtime waiting for our scheduled flights to depart, and an almost total absence of healthy food choices on our travel days. That said, there are several steps a smart traveler can take to help ensure that necessary travel does not take a toll on our health and overall well-being.

The key to healthy travel is preparation. We want to avoid two main problems. First, we want to prevent the strains and sprains that may befall us when we battle unwieldy luggage in the cramped quarters of airplane cabins. Next, we want to avoid the colds, coughs, and other ailments we might contract by prolonged close contact with our fellow passengers and fellow conference attendees (or other business associates).

The best means of avoiding travel-related sprains and strains is to make sure we're stretching and doing vigorous exercise on a regular basis. Ideally, exercising and stretching has been a part of our weekly routine for a long time. If not, the good news about exercising is that the best time to begin is right now. Begin your fitness program at least four weeks before your travel date. Don't try to cram everything in. That would be a big mistake. Rather, consult with your chiropractor to learn a beginner's fitness routine that will work for you.

Begin your program and gradually build-up your capabilities over four or more weeks. Your fitness activities will prepare you for the physical work of lugging your bags around the airport and maneuvering them once you're inside the plane. Your stretching and exercise routines will improve your strength and flexibility, so you'll be better able to withstand the physical stresses of travel without suffering an annoying injury.

The best approach to guarding against travel-induced ailments is to ensure that you're providing your body with sufficient sources of energy. Healthy nutrition is the key here. Again, ideally, you and your family have been engaged in healthy eating for some time. But it's certainly easy to get off track. As with exercise, begin your program of good nutrition at least four weeks before your trip. Make sure, on a regular basis, you're eating from all the major food groups. Make sure, too, that you're eating at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day. Such a daily diet will provide your body with the requirements for good health and sufficient energy that will enable a strong immune system.

Your two key action steps, a regular exercise and stretching program and a balanced and complete nutritional program, will help you maintain good health and enhanced well-being when you're traveling and when you return home.

1Rizzoli R, et al: Nutrition and bone health: turning knowledge and beliefs into healthy behaviour. Curr Med Res Opin Sep 23 2013 [Epub ahead of print]

2Roberts CK: Modification of insulin sensitivity and glycemic control by activity and exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 10:1868-1877, 2013

3Taggart J, et al: A systematic review of interventions in primary care to improve health literacy for chronic disease behavioral risk factors. BMC Family Pract 13:49, 2012

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