Jen is a weekly business traveler. She has a territory in the Midwest. She covers Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.
Jen has a company car and finds herself constantly in a car driving from one state to another, one city to another to the next rep she needs to visit. This is her road life every quarter as she does the same rounds.
Stan is also a weekly business traveler. He has a territory in North America. He lives on a plane and his company car is rented from National Car Rental. In fact, Stan has a bumper sticker that says, “My other car is a rental car.” This is his road life every quarter with a ton of variety.
Jen and Stan don’t have a lot in common except one major thing: lack of movement and specifically sitting almost ALL their travel day. What they get at the end of the day is far from energy but a numb butt and lower back pain.
How can they possibly change anything with their environment lending to sitting?
CONSIDER A PERSON’S AVERAGE DAY
- Sit for breakfast
- Sit commuting to work (national average, one-way daily commute is 25.5 minutes)
- Sit a majority of the workday at their desk or in a meeting (minus a bathroom break)
- Sit commuting back from work
- Sit at dinner
IF YOU’RE ON THE ROAD, YOUR STORY MAY LOOK LIKE THIS:
- Sit watching TV in the evening
- Sit for the drive to the airport
- Sit at the gate waiting for a flight
- Sit on the plane the entire flight
- Sit in a rental car or rideshare to your first meeting
- Sit at lunch
- Sit for your afternoon meetings
- Sit at dinner with your laptop open, alone or eating with clients
- Sit at the hotel or nearby bar until bed
Do you see a theme?
The point is we sit most of the time and far more than we even realize, which makes movement a rare event. So, how do you compare? Do you sit with the average or move more than the average?
I CHALLENGE YOU TO CONSIDER BECOMING A STAND-UP GUY OR A STAND-UP GIRL!
SIX WAYS TO TAKE A STAND AGAINST SITTING DURING TRAVEL
I obviously don’t know your location and your travel arrangement— if it’s short or long, by car or plane. I do know it’s possible to take a stand against sitting if you’re willing to be creative and look for options to increase standing, the first of Increase M4X.
As you read through these suggestions, I encourage you to think about how you can adapt them to your travel situation.
1. STAND AT THE AIRPORT GATE
I see people standing as an absolute last resort because they don’t want to sit in between someone at the gate. This is a perfect opportunity to stand before getting on the plane. Why? Because you’re going to be sitting for the next couple hours or far more, depending on the distance of your flight.
This is a massive change of behavior for frequent flyers. They’re so ingrained to see a seat and sit in it, especially when you get to your gate. It’s a sense of relief. “Ah, I made it, and now I can relax until I need to board.”
I challenge you to gain some energy before you even get on your flight. This small habit change will become a catalyst for the remaining ways to take a stand against sitting during travel.
2. STAND DURING THE FLIGHT
Do you ever notice that one guy who stands a lot during the flight? How annoying, right?
Yup, I’m that guy. I’ll stand during a flight. I’m happy to make you feel awkward and uncomfortable. I want to increase blood flow through my body to increase my energy, which is the whole point! Now I can hear the pushback:
The seatbelt light is almost always on.
What if we hit turbulence while I’m standing?
Here are my responses:
- I don’t want to bother those around me.
- The seatbelt light is on often but more at selected times – pay attention and you’ll be surprised.
- You’ll know about the turbulence long before it forces you into the arms of another woman.
- Do you really care THAT much what someone thinks whom you will never see again?
I don’t rely on my memory to remind me to stand, especially if I’m in a time-block session (you’ll learn more about time blocks in the Perform Habit under Block & Tackle).
But I do rely on an alert. I first started with a timer. I would set it for a certain amount of time, and when the alarm would go off, I would stand. Currently, my Apple watch lets me know an hour into sitting without standing. I love the alert, especially if I’m locked into work, writing, reading, etc. I need that trigger to get me off my can and onto my feet.
3. STOP AT A REST AREA OR GAS STATION TO STAND
Some road warriors rarely, if ever, step foot in an airport or a plane. They’re literal road warriors, driving from place to place. Other road warriors may fly to one central location, and then drive around from that spot, often for hours.
If this is the case, leverage the potential stops to get some standing in and move! This may take the form of a rest area off the interstate. It may be a fuel stop at a gas station or a bathroom break.
Take these times, whether planned or necessary, to take a stand. You’ll be surprised how much more movement you can get in when you look for these natural stops while driving.
4. STAND DURING MEETINGS
Oh, the joy of meetings on the road. They definitely cannot be avoided because chances are, that’s exactly why you’re on business travel most of the time in the first place!
Meetings are a perfect opportunity to stand, even just for a few minutes. Here’s a slick way of pulling it off: I stand to stretch then just remain standing for a minute or two. Often, nobody cares, and I stand for as long as I can get away with it. Each meeting is different, so you need to feel that one out.
I’m now known as a stand-up guy, especially if I come back to the same location with the same people and they just know I’m “that guy.” Simply embrace it. If you’re getting into the habit of standing during meetings, then the fifth way is a natural transition…
5. CREATE A STAND-UP DESK
Create a stand-up desk any time you can. It’s possible on business travel, but it may take some creativity. When you’re on a mission to have a stand-up desk, you’ll make it work.
If I’m in a meeting, I’ll look around and find a way to move my laptop or even a notebook to accommodate standing and create a makeshift stand-up desk. It may be a ledge or bar-height table.
I often stay and even stop at a Courtyard Marriott or Embassy Suites just to work for an hour or so between meetings, etc. Starbucks is another option if you don’t mind the transient environment, which can be highly stimulating.
The overall point of stand more is learning to make it a priority and looking for opportunities to add more standing within a business travel day. If you truly made a concerted effort on the six suggested ways, you’ll be amazed at the difference you’ll feel in your body and in your energy.
6. STRETCH WHILE YOU STAND
You’re up, man, so why not stretch out that tight and inflexible body? I’m serious. Most road warriors are VERY inflexible (in more ways than one).
This is such a freebie that when you stand you stretch your legs, your back, your neck. In mere seconds, that tight body of yours gets a free stretch that comes with simply taking a stand. A beautiful thing, Road Warriors!
Another way to increase standing time is to not sit while you’re waiting for the rental car bus or Ride Share on one of those very convenient (and very uncomfortable) benches.
Take a stand! You’ve been on a flight, so stretch your legs and get some blood flowing to regain some energy. If you’re on the rental car bus, stand there as well. You’ll be the gentleman giving up your seat for a lady. See how standing can make you a hero as well? All the perks!
If I’m really honest, I don’t want to be the person seated at the back of the bus having to wait on EVERYONE to get his or her bag off the bus. I like to keep my carry-on and computer bag assembled, to get a few more minutes of stand time on, and be the first off the bus.
Land This Plane…
I realize the road fights you on this one, with a comfortable chair and the pressure to sit since “everyone else is.” This can be a tough play but not impossible.
So, choose one of the ways to stand more that will be the easiest for you to integrate into your day on the road. Does it need to be one you’ll remember the easiest? Or one that is the least obvious?
For me, it was standing at the gate at the airport. Once I started this standing location, I found myself more conscious of other standing opportunities within my day.
So, become a stand-up guy or stand-up girl on the road today!