5 expert tips to stay healthy while traveling

PHOTO: A man on a paddle board in the water.Getty Images
A man on a paddle board in the water.

Spring weather has many thinking about their summer bodies. If you've established a healthy routine at home, good for you. But how do we keep from getting derailed when work or leisure takes us from our routine?

ABC News asked physical therapist Dr. Karen Joubert to weigh in with her top tips. She's worked with everyone from Diddy to Jennifer Aniston to Cher.

"Everyone wants to know the golden secret to keeping their bodies in check while traveling," she said. "Traveling can take a toll on us physically, mentally and emotionally. Anxiety, fear, being away from home in unfamiliar environments, and jet lag can have a negative impact on our bodies. Traveling messes with our bodies' circadian rhythm as it tries to adjust to the new morning-evening cycles when we cross time zones."

Here are her top five tips for staying healthy while hitting the road:

1) Hydrate

"One thing you can do and should do daily is to be consistent with your hydration, especially during your travels. Keep yourself loaded with water," Joubert said. When you're thirsty, she said, you've already lost 1 percent of needed fluids. Joubert said that an active individual's daily consumption of water should be 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight.

"During air travel, it is advised to drink 8 ounces of water per hour. As far as those vacation cocktails, enjoy yourselves, but keep them to a minimum, always following up with water. The alcohol will not only increase your amount of dehydration but [also] can throw off the necessary sleep patterns that change during the course of traveling."

2) Get enough sleep

"The healthy body allows for five stages of sleep," Joubert said. "Stages 1-4 and REM [rapid eye movement]. Stages 1-3 are for rest, Stage 4 is crucial because this is when our body makes new hormones, repairs itself and heals. Travels and time changes can block stage 4 due to the release of cortisol from travel stresses. Remember that the quality of sleep is just as important as the quantity of sleep.

"I have recommended always traveling with over-the-counter melatonin, as it will help reduce the production of cortisol the next day. Check with your physician or local pharmacist regarding the appropriate dose for your body type."

3) Don't quit working out

Joubert herself struggles with this one, she said. "If your hotel or accommodations don’t have a gym, do your body a favor and mix it up. A vacation is for change. It is extremely healthy to change things up as we will use different muscles and the body is physically challenged in other areas."

She recommends walking if in a city, checking out a local fitness class or even working out with a YouTube video.

4) Eat healthy and don't forget to snack

Traveling can take a toll on the waistline, even for her clients who are athletes and on rigorous diets, Joubert said. "No matter what, always start the day with a high protein breakfast from egg whites to a turkey burger. It will fuel you for the morning and help you to avoid the fast food [or] empty calorie snacks at the airports, such as bagels and donuts. I recommend packing in your carry-ons no-salt nut packets, high protein bars, even throwing in your favorite packets of tea or oatmeal. You can almost always have access to hot water. Chose items that are higher in protein that will keep for long periods of time."

5) No heavy lifting

"Use a suitcase with rollers and keep those suitcases light for the overhead bins," Joubert said. "Many serious shoulder and back injuries she sees are due to patients throwing heavy bags into the overhead bins. If you can’t lift it easily with one hand, then it’s too heavy. Do yourself a huge favor, allow a few more minutes to go to baggage claim upon arrival or send your clothes ahead of time if you just can’t wait."

Karen Joubert has more than 25 years as both an athlete and physical therapist. She treats professional athletes as well as political leaders and celebrities. Her practice is in Southern California.

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