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How to Stay in Shape on the Road


No need to check out of healthy habits when you hit the road. Here, our wellness experts share their tips on how to keep a balance between healthful living and having fun. Plus, what hotels, airlines and cruises are doing to help you maintain optimum fitness throughout your journeys. By MONSICHA HOONSUWAN. Illustrated by AUTCHARA PANPHAI.

Published on Jul 17, 2017

 

OUR HEALTHY HABITS OFTEN TAKE OFF
when we fly. Fortunately, the travel industry is conspiring to change that. We used to have to retire to wellness retreats, but the concept is becoming integral to all types of hotels and resorts, promising travel experiences that transform one's mind, body and soul. Meanwhile, airlines and even cruises—those infamous kilo-raising culprits—are rolling out options for the healthy-minded. In fact, according to a recent study by the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness tourism industry accounted for US$563 billion in 2015, an increase of 14 percent from 2013, and it's forecasted to reach US$680 billion in 2017. If your resolution this year is to be more health-conscious even on the road, this guide provides the map.

 


 

AIRLINES
Living a high-flying lifestyle comes with a cost: jet lag upsets your circadian rhythm, a biological clock that regulates your sleep cycle, causing a whole host of other issues including gastrointestinal problems, mood changes and difficulty concentrating—that's why you can't seem to function right after a transcontinental flight. Frequent flyers also age faster, have weaker immune systems and are more at risk for obesity (on-board bubbles and salt- and sugar-laden meals certainly don't help). Clearly, it's no longer enough for planes to be fast and fuel-efficient. Passenger wellness is paramount, and to the right are examples of what some airlines in our region are doing to help.

Illustrated by Autchara Panphai.

BETTER BEVERAGES
Low humidity on planes presents no severe health risks, but it's a source of discomfort, and leaves you more prone to contracting germs and diseases. Starting in 2016, Qantas has partnered with Sydney-based Botanica to bring nutrient-dense, immune-system-boosting cold-pressed juice on select flights. Turkish Airlines is also ahead of the game with its herbal teas developed by Dr. Ender Saraç, a famous Turkish doctor.

HEALTHIER BITES
Enjoy macronutrient-rich meals from the Deliciously Wholesome menus launched in April  2016 on some Singapore Airlines flights. These dishes—sous vide miso-simmered beef Yamato-style with nimono vegetables; quinoa with ratatouille and chickpeas—are meant to restore and rejuvenate, especially on long-hauls.

WIDER SEATS
Just an inch increase in seat width can improve your sleep quality by 53 percent, according to a study by The London Sleep Centre. Airbus is a proponent of a minimum seat-width of 18 inches on long-haul flights, armed with data that it leads to deeper, longer uninterrupted sleep than the 17 inches prevalent in the industry. Luckily, airlines in Asia feature some of the widest seats: Asiana holds the crown with 21 inches on its A330s; Singapore Airlines, budget Scoot, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific and ANA follow close behind at 18 to 19 inches.

 

30%

The decrease in your sweet and salty senses caused by a plane's engine noise.

 


 

HOTELS
Our abs and souls appreciate that so many hotels are sprucing up their gyms and trying to improve our sleep. These are just three of our favorite ideas going above and beyond in their wellness innovations.

  DIGITAL DETOX  

Mandrin Oriental
A remote island isn't the only place to disconnect. Since September 2016, guests who book treatments at Mandarin Oriental spas worldwide are encouraged to give up their phones on arrival and spend time afterwards coloring or meditating. You'll also have access to tips created by Mayo Clinic experts to help you establish a healthy relationship with technology and live a digitally balanced lifestyle. If you crave a more serious session, book an 80-minute Digital Detox Retreat: an aromatic bath and a massage focusing on relieving your head, eyes, neck, shoulders, hands and feet from the stress of daily, repetitive movements. mandarinoriental.com.

  FOOD THERAPY  

Well Hotel Bangkok
The concept of food as medicine is taken literally at the hotel's signature restaurant Eat Well Café, where Thai and Asian-fusion dishes are prepared with wholesome local ingredients. Don't just pick an appetizer, main and dessert: go for one of eight set meals designed to ease common ailments afflicting urbanites including Computer Vision Syndrome, Office Syndrome, stress and anxiety, jet lag, and PMS. If, like most of us, you spend a lot of time looking at mobile and computer screens, the CVS set, with beef steak and goji berry soup, will supply you with plenty of vitamin A, Beta Carotene and vitamin C to reenergize your tired eyes. wellhotelbangkok.com.

  STAYING ACTIVE  

Even Hotels
Finding ways to fit a sweat sesh into your packed schedule is about to get much easier with the first outside-of-America launches of Even Hotels in the Australia–New Zealand region. Exact dates are still in the works, but expect a dedicated cork-floored workout area in your room, complete with a stability ball, a yoga mat, strength bands and fitness videos. Head to the Athletic Studio to join one of their group classes or ask the staff for fitness advice. If you are traveling to the States, New York City and D.C. are among the places you can find these hotels—also well known for their in-room standing desks. ihg.com/evenhotels.

 

16,000

spas were added to the industry between 2013 and 2015.

 

                 
  SMOOTH LANDING
China Airlines, Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines are among the fleets who have launched flights with Airbus A350 XWB. Here's why you'll love flying in this jet.      

 
     
  1. THE LIGHT
The LED system can create 16.7 million light–color combinations to simulate natural shifts of color temperatures from sunrise to sunset, helping your body clock adjust to time-zone changes.
  2. THE AIR
An efficient air filtration system refreshes the air inside the cabin every two to three minutes throughout the flight. The plane is also able to keep cabin temperatures stable so you can go to sleep a lot more soundly than ever.
  3. THE PRESSURE
There's less ear-popping, because the plane's cabin can be pressurized to 1,800 meters, 25 percent closer to ground level than the 2,400 meters on most planes.
  4. THE HUMIDITY
With 53 percent of its frame made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, as opposed to aluminum, the plane can safely raise the humidity level higher in the cabin to prevent dryness of your skin, throat, mouth and eyes.
 
                 

 


 

CRUISES
Sandwiched between the endless expanse of the sea and the sky full of stars, you'd be forgiven for being glued to a deck lounger, or whiling away time at the banquet table, the starlit jacuzzi—anywhere but the boring old gym. Luckily, cruises these days are jazzing up their wellness offerings so we don't pack those extra kilos back home.

MIND & BODY WELLNESS PROGRAM, SEABOURN
Beginning with the inaugural voyage, from Singapore to Bali, of Seabourn Encore in January 2017, integrative medicine practitioner Andrew Weil will sail on a different Seabourn ship each year as the cruise line's first Wellness Guide. He will lecture on various topics from meditation to healthy aging, anti-inflammatory foods to happiness. Smaller group chats and one-on-one sessions will also be available for those interested in deepening the mind-and-body connection. seabourn.com.

WELLNESS EXPEDITIN VOYAGES, SILVERSEA
Sometimes discovery starts from within. That's why Silver Discover partners with Technogym to offer a sailing sanctuary of expert-led yoga and fitness. As you traverse Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, exploring foreign cultures, wildlife and terrains, you'll also be looking inward to find inner balance through personalized gym sessions, nutrition counseling and exercise classes from water aerobics to Pilates. silversea.com.

TRADITIONAL DANCE CLASSES, PAUL GAUGUIN
If you ever find yourself in need of a compelling reason to get a workout instead of reveling in the turquoise seas of the French Polynesia and the South Pacific, Paul Gauguin has the perfect one. This small-ship brand offers traditional Polynesian dance classes and sunrise Polynesian-inspired Zumba classes taught by Les Gauguines, the cruise line's crew of local staff, entertainers and storytellers. So bust out your floral headdress and burn off those buffet calories. pgcruises.com; various voyages from seven to 17 nights, from US$3,995, including airfare.

 

691

million wellness trips were made around the globe in 2015.

 

 

Jojo Struys   JOJO STRUYS
Westin's Well-Being expert

Multitalented Struys (jojostruys.com) packs a whole lot of action in her life, from hosting TV and radio shows to tap dancing and yoga in peculiar places—train-station downward dog, anyone? Here's how the author of Jojo Struys's Guide to Wellness makes working out happen wherever.

 

MUST-PACK ITEMS
JS: 
Incense and comfortable clothes for morning meditation.

BUFFET BREAKFAST PICKS
JS:
Fruits, smoothies, muesli, nuts and egg-white omelettes.

GYM ALTERNATIVES
JS:
I feel strange if I wake up and don't meditate at all. A few minutes can really center and calm the mind.

MAGIC MOVE
JS:
A 15-minute breathing exercise can be equivalent to two hours of sleep, so I do a lot when I'm on the go. It energizes the body and relaxes the mind, and is antiaging.

IMMEDIATE STRESS RELIEVER
JS:
Forceful breathing technique, which I teach, is a loud exhalation that's great for stress relief and anger issues. Meditation also helps.

FOOD TO AVOID
JS:
Processed food. It's not always easy to be healthy when traveling so try to eat in moderation. Sample local cuisine cooked from fresh ingredients. Be flexible.

SNOOZE STRATEGIES
JS:
Try not to check e-mails before bedtime. Think of something relaxing so that you will go to bed in a calmer mood. Then try to wake up with a positive thought.

 


 

FIT-TECH
Running out of wellness options? Get help from these start-up services.

GYM BUNNY
GuavaPass (prices vary by country) offers access to boutique fitness studios in 10 cities in Asia and the Middle East, from Taipei to Dubai. Meanwhile, KFit (prices vary by country) is all for feeling good, be it a facial, a massage or even muay Thai classes, in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Singapore and Manila.

CLEAN EATER
Order healthy meals and cold-pressed juices from more than 45 independent vendors in Bangkok via Indie Dish. In Klang Valley, Malaysia, Dah Makan offers diverse daily menus—Baja fish tacos; Korean spicy-squid stir-fry—and free delivery of its gourmet lunch and dinner boxes. Nosh, in Hong Kong, prepares dishes that are light on calories (550 or fewer per meal) but heavy on flavors, like Moroccan-spiced chicken with couscous, and can be ordered through Foodpanda.

MASSAGE LOVER
Book a Swedish or Shiatsu massage on Zennya (P400 for 60 minutes), in Manila, and a licensed therapist will come knocking at your door within 30 minutes. Other massages and scrubs are in the works. Similarly, Diandao (treatments from RMB128) has certified massage professionals standing by in Chinese cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu.

 

Jojo Struys   KEN ROSEN, traditional Chinese medicine practitioner
Bangkok-based Rosen (spatcm.com) brings holistic health programs rooted in the 5,000-year-old Chinese medicinal system to world-class wellness facilities like Chiva-Som, One&Only and Six Senses all over Asia. For example, he's developed facial acupressure and Taoist exercise schemes. Here's how he fights off jet lag, eats clean, stays Zen and feels at home anywhere.

 

MUST-PACK ITEMS
KR:
Huo Xiang Zheng Qi Pian, a kitchen-sink Chinese medicine used for diarrhea, fever with chills, headache, chest oppression, nausea, possibly vomiting. Good for hangovers also. Available at Chinese-medicine stores.

PREFLIGHT PROCEDURES
KR: Travel in the jet age is very un-grounding. It weakens the body's earth element that represents healthy digestion. I like to eat earthy root vegetables, like yams, potatoes or carrots, before flying. Also, load up on magnesium; it relaxes muscles.

HEADING OFF JET-LAG
KR: On a long-haul flight I only drink water, then I have a normal, scheduled meal after landing and click into the time zone instantly.

LAYOVER RULE
KR: Try to walk during your layover as a way of grounding and moving the blood. I find it funny that people tend to get frustrated with long-haul flights or waiting for a connecting flight only to finally arrive at a beach to sit in a chair.

RESORT DINING
KR: Indulge but don't overdo. The lure of the bacon tray gets me, I'll be honest, but when your body feels congested, lighten up. You can have a big lunch followed by a small, clean dinner. Mineral-rich foods such as root and sea veggies, and whole grains offer grounding effects as well as simple nourishment.

QUICK DE-STRESS TECHNIQUE
KR: Try a few deep abdominal breaths after sending your next important e-mail before tackling the next one.

FAVORITE SPA TREATMENT
KR: I'm still a rabid fan of traditional Thai massage, with its slow, rhythmic nature that works on energy lines or meridians of the body, helping connect the body with the mind. A true healing experience.

CREATING HOME AWAY FROM HOME
KR: Bring a little bit of your sense of home with you. It could be your favorite mug or a picture of your dog to be next to your hotel bed. The feeling of home/earth is essential to cultivate.

 

IN-ROOM EXERCISE
Three moves JoJo Struys promises will refresh you in 10 minutes.

HAMSTRING STRETCH
 

Hamstring Stretch

Place your hands on a desk or ledge. Bend forward with your back flat and feel the stretch at the back of your hamstrings. Take a few long breaths.

Benefit: Promotes healthy circulation, and alleviates tension and fatigue.
SPINAL TWIST
 

Spinal Twist

Sit on a chair; turn right; place your right hand at the rim of the chair behind you while your left hand holds your knee. Stay for a few breaths, then repeat on the other side.

What it does: Relieves tired back muscles; stimulates digestion; detoxifies.
STOMACH BREATHING
 

Stomach Breathing

Sit with your back straight, take a deep breath in your nose and allow the belly to extend outward with the air. Hold for four counts then silently, gently exhale, noticing the stomach settle.

What it does: Calms and quiets the mind.

 


 

THE MASSAGE MATRIX
All massages are not created equal. Peruse this guide, created by Sally Halsted, COMO Shambhala Estate's Spa & Programme Manager, to find the right one for you.

The massage matrix

 

TRAVEL THERAPIES
Feel a bit out of balance? Get your chakras realigned at these scenic wellness retreats around the region.

Ocean Soul Retreat
Courtesy of Ocean Soul Retreat.

 

BALI
Ocean Soul Retreat

This women-only getaway offers one-week, healthy-habit-forming programs that are tailored to your interests, including yoga, Pilates, surfing and holistic healing. You'll soon be accustomed to a healthier lifestyle when your every meal is delicious, wholesome and prepared by a Balinese chef, you stay hydrated with natural, refreshing beverages like herbal teas and coconut water. oceansoulretreat.com; April–October; from US$2,795 per person.

Aleenta Phuket Resort & Spa
Courtesy of Aleenta Phuket Resort & Spa.

 

THAILAND
Aleenta Phuket, and Akyra Beach Club Phuket

Patricia Thielemann, the founder of Spirit Yoga, will help you restore that sense of purpose that might be evading you in the banality of everyday work. At the end of the eight-day program consisting of twice-daily yoga, a self-development workshop and daily meditations, you'll be supercharged with positive energy, ready to meet all of life's challenges head on. aleenta.com; from Bt57,700 per person.

 

61%

more money is spent by international wellness tourists than

the average international traveler.

 

Tella Chen   TELLA CHEN, nutritionist at The Living Room by Octave
Chen, a member of the American Association of Nutrition Consultants, was a runner-up on China's first cooking reality show, The Taste. The low-cal-recipe cookbook author creates artisanal juices for her clients at The Living Room. Here are her tips on maintaining nutritional balance and healthy guts, even on hard-core foodie trips.

 

MUST-PACK ITEMS
TC:
Basic multivitamins, antioxidants and dietary fiber.

EATING ON A LONG-HAUL
TC: Request no main course or a very light version, as our digestive system works slower in the air than when we're on the ground. I usually just eat salad, yogurt and some fruit.

BUFFET BREAKFAST PICKS
TC: Start with something light such as granola with fruit, cold cuts with whole wheat bread, or salad. If I still want more, I'll eat omelette or pancake. But keep away from concentrated fruit juice, fried eggs, and sausages.

LOCAL FOOD VS. THE USUAL DIET
TC: I will try famous local foods first, but I will eat one meal and then keep the next light if I can arrange my schedule. If not, I try a bite of everything, then come back and work off extra calories.

QUICK RECHARGE
TC: Drink a cup of water and take a 10-minute nap to relax.

FOR THE SOUNDEST SLEEP
TC: If you know you will have late dinner during a work trip, keep several packs of digestive-enzyme powder in your pocket.

 

 

 

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Illustrated by Autchara Panphai.
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