Retirement for some seniors means finally having the time to take care of their health and fitness as well as having the time and resources to travel. I find it amazing that the most traveled members in my fitness community of seniors are well into their 70s and 80s. One of my octogenarians travels every winter to meet her children and grandchildren for a week of cross-country and downhill skiing. Oh yes, she is skiing right along with her family. She says her regular workouts keep her so conditioned, she’s able to jump right in and ski the whole week.
I’ll admit, the seniors I work with are pretty consistent with their fitness. They adhere closely to the CDC recommendations of how much physical activity older adults need. That’s 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 5 days a week, plus 2 days a week of strength training, and 3 days a week of balance training.
However, what I often heard was after traveling for two or more weeks, unless it was a specific fitness vacation, many seniors felt like they lost some of their hard-earned strength and endurance. Others found that they missed their regular exercise regimen. That’s why I started focusing on how to work out while traveling.
Top Picks For Frequent Travelers
By far, my favorite fitness equipment for traveling and I think the most practical is resistance bands, tubes, or loops. They’re super convenient. They add almost no extra weight to your luggage and can easily fit into your carry-on bag. This makes them the perfect choice if you’re going to be traveling to multiple locations. They’re reasonably priced so if they’re lost you won’t feel like you’ve lost a sizable investment.
Amazon has a large selection of resistance bands in sets and they can be purchased for under $20. The best part about resistance bands, tubes, or loops is they’re so versatile. They work well to accommodate any fitness level from beginner to advanced. You can train specific body parts or you can use them for a full body workout and they’re incredibly easy to use and master.
My recommendations are based on personal and client use, safety, brand quality, and price.
These flat resistance bands are often used for physical therapy. They are my go-to band for frequent travelers who want to keep up their strength or a regular fitness routine. They’re excellent for anyone who has joint problems due to pain, lack of mobility, or loss of strength. I use these in many of my classes with my senior members.
These are big loops but another trusted brand. They are heavier than the flat bands and are bought individually. Great for those who are looking for more resistance than what they’ll get from the flat bands.
These are the most expensive of all the resistance bands. The 82 inch loop 1.5 ISO Band 41 was $20 at the time this was written. They’re a premium high-quality resistance band for serious fitness enthusiasts. The bands are only sold on the website. The benefits are they are very durable and are easier on bare skin than other types of resistance bands.
Also a flat resistance band but with loops evenly spaced along the length of the band. I haven’t used these yet, but I can see how this new design adds more functionality for gripping. They are sold individually but each band is still less than $20 on Amazon. For how to use TheraBands go to their website.
These are smaller 12-inch long loops and come as a set of four with different strengths. Loops are most commonly used for leg workouts but an internet search will give you creative ways to use them for upper body work. They do tend to roll during use and pull the hair on bare skin.
This is a set of three mini loops with different strengths. They’re marked only as light, medium, and heavy. Like other mini loops, they will roll and pull the hair on bare skin.
The cloth construction and width of these loops keep them from rolling like the rubber mini loops. Their construction does make them less flexible and can be harder to get on and off around the legs. I have not used this brand but it’s recommended by several health magazines with a set of three under $20. They come with a carrying bag, an exercise idea sheet, and access to video workouts.
For anyone who has difficulty gripping a flat band, SPRI also makes a resistance tube with a handle. They’re bought individually with the lightest bands still priced under $20. They’re a bit heavier than flat bands but still light enough not to add any noticeable weight to your luggage.
Pro Tip: If you have a sensitivity to latex, please read the product notes on resistance bands carefully before purchasing. A pair of lifting gloves may help if gripping the flat bands is uncomfortable. Gloves are designed to protect the palms but can also give extra wrist support. There are many choices under $20 on Amazon.
Top Picks For Extended Stay Travelers
If your travels are such that you stay in places for an extended period, you may want equipment that gives a more intense workout. I recommend an interchangeable resistance band set or a suspension training set.
A set of five interchangeable resistance tubes in varying strengths, two handles, a door anchor, an ankle strap, and a carrying bag for around $50 on Amazon. The fully loaded carrying bag weighs 3.25 pounds. There are cheaper versions on the market but Bodylastics are made with an inner core to prevent injury should the bands snap. The bodylastic website is a good resource for exercises.
The suspension trainer kit weighs just 1.5 pounds. The kit includes a mesh carrying bag, a TRX GO rope for suspension training, and indoor and outdoor anchors. The TRX system is two straps anchored at the top with handles at the end for leveraging your body weight against gravity.
Pro Tip: What is suspension training? TRX offers online exercises and on-demand classes. This system works best for seniors who have a good level of strength and can hold their body weight with their arms. Even on Amazon, the TRX system is priced over $100.
Anchor Point Training offers an APT Suspension Strap. This is similar to using a TRX. It must be purchased through the website and the price was $100 when this article was written.