Secrets to Staying Healthy on the Road

Nutritionist Rovenia Brock offers suggestions on how to stay healthy, eat smart and be active when traveling. Brock is the author of Dr. Ro's Ten Secrets to Livin' Healthy.

FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

So you know, I just returned from a three-week vacation in southern Africa. I spent some time with my family, did sightseeing, and yeah, I did some shopping too. I actually dropped a few pounds because I did so much walking, but keeping the right diet and exercise schedule on the road can be tough.

Joining us now is NEWS & NOTES nutritionist Rovenia Brock with some tips on how to stay healthy, eat smart and be active while traveling. Hey, Dr. Ro.

Dr. ROVENIA BROCK: Hey. Welcome back.

CHIDEYA: So first of all, plane travel. There are warnings on the airplanes now about a kind of blood clot that can affect you if you sit too long on a plane. Can you tell us about that and how to prevent that?

Dr. BROCK: If you sit too long you can develop blood clots. So what you want to do are exercises like stretching and doing things like pointing your toes, stretches for your upper and lower body. And you can do that as you sit. And of course if you get the chance to get up so that you can walk up and down aisles, that always helps.

CHIDEYA: So once you are on the plane - I was on a plane for 20 hours. I'm not kidding. Because you fly from - I actually was on for longer than that because I flew L.A. to New York, then New York to Dakar, then Dakar to Johannesburg, and then eventually Johannesburg to Harare, Zimbabwe. So I was on planes for days. And what other things should you look out for health-wise besides blood clots?

Dr. BROCK: Well, you know, the air. So you definitely want to keep yourself hydrated. You want to drink plenty of water as you're in the air because you will easily become dehydrated. And you want to just make sure that you have small bits of protein foods and lower calorie and fat foods to sustain you along the way. But basically, those are some of the major things that I think you want to watch out for.

CHIDEYA: And when it comes to eating right and exercising once you hit the ground, what sorts of things should we look out for?

Dr. BROCK: So - well, as you're on vacation or traveling, you know, there are many things that you can do even if you don't have access to a gym. So if you're in a hotel room, for example, you can do floor exercises - things like crunches, where you're working your abs or your abdomen area, leg lifts.

You also might do things like take along resistance bands, because that way you can work both your upper and lower body - working your biceps, your triceps, even working your lower body in terms of, you know, glutes and your lower body muscles and legs and thighs. And you can do that, by the way, even as you're flying.

CHIDEYA: Now, if you are staying someplace where there is magnificent food -I've been on some great foodie vacations to places like Paris - what should you look out for if you want to satisfy your taste buds but also make sure that you don't come back a dress size or a pant size larger?

Dr. BROCK: In Paris, I don't think - I'm not looking out for anything but a good time. Having said that, I would say make sure that you keep your portions smaller and make sure that you do not overindulge so that you don't really overconsume calories. That's really the big thing. Make sure that you concentrate on doing things like walking. Walk everywhere.

In Europe, there's such an opportunity, particularly in cities like Paris, to get a good walk in. And so when you don't have to take public transportation or transportation, walk, and that helps to burn off some of those excess calories that you might take in as you're indulging.

CHIDEYA: Now, I did walk a lot and it was really quite good for me. I realized how much the desk job thing is an issue in terms of my weight control. But what about exercises that can really keep you toned? Say that you're on a walking vacation, what kind of things can keep you toned as well?

Dr. BROCK: Lunges. Lunges. Lunges. Lunges. Lunges and squats will tone your lower body so they'll tone your glut muscles. The other thing you want to do to tone your upper body like arms, getting rid of those grainy arms, if you will, are tricep curls, bicep curls. And you can do those using the strength of your own body, even if you don't have weights to work with.

CHIDEYA: Well, I think on that note, everyone who's going away will have a lot more opportunities to stay healthy while they enjoy themselves. Thank you so much, Dr. Ro.

Dr. BROCK: It's always a pleasure.

CHIDEYA: Rovenia Brock is a regular contributor to NEWS & NOTES and author of "Dr Ro's Ten Secrets to Livin' Healthy."

Tomorrow, NPR's special Africa correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault and I also break down my trip to Zimbabwe.

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