Kari Eide and her co-author, Lissa Mueller, have created a travel fitness program for seniors that is portable, compact, adaptable and easy to use. Their travel exercise kit, The Fit Traveler – Senior Edition, uses an exercise band to tone and strengthen the entire body. Combining the short daily exercise band workout with Eide and Mueller's diet and fitness tips can help senior travelers stay fit while on the road and maintain that level of fitness once vacation time ends. Eide and Mueller also co-authored The Fit Traveler: Take Your Workout With You (also called the Standard Edition), a travel fitness kit for younger travelers and for seniors who are already fit and active. Kari Eide kindly agreed to describe her senior travel fitness program for About.com's readers.
Senior Travel Guide Nancy Parode: Tell me how you came up with the idea for The Fit Traveler – Senior Edition.
Kari Eide: Can I tell you the background story? I was always into fitness programs, but I was in a really bad car accident, a head-on collision. I needed reconstructive surgery on my heel and ankle and was bedridden for quite some time. My physical therapist and my friend, Lissa, who owned the local gym, both gave me exercise bands. One day I picked them up and mimicked some of my gym exercises with the bands in bed. I found I was able to maintain muscle tone by using the bands.
Nine months after I recovered, we went on a family vacation to the Oregon coast. There was no gym, and we had little kids along. There was no daycare available for me to work out. I took the exercise band along and had a "lightbulb" moment. I could complete my whole routine while we were traveling. I worked my upper body, lower body and abs.
When I got back, I worked with Lissa to perfect the exercises and create a unique and different travel exercise routine. I know how difficult it is to maintain a fitness routine while traveling. I wanted the photos in our book to be clear and easy to follow, because I've lived through everything people are trying to do. Many books have photos, but you still can't figure out how you're supposed to do the exercises.
Guide Nancy: How much space do you need to use the Senior Edition? Some European hotel rooms are pretty small.
Kari Eide: All you need is a space that fits your arm span and torso length. Some of the exercises have seated options in the Senior Edition. You can do this on cruise ships and in motor homes. The program offers no-rest sets, so your heart rate goes up, giving you a cardiovascular workout and strength training. You really are getting the cardio and resistance training or toning done at the same time.
Guide Nancy: Please describe a typical daily exercise routine from The Fit Traveler – Senior Edition.
Kari Eide: We suggest a two- to three-minute walking in place and stretching warm-up. As you work your upper body, all of the major muscle groups are worked two times. The lower body muscle groups are worked the same way. Abdominals are worked in sections: upper, lower and oblique abs. There's a two- to three-minute cool-down at the end. The whole thing takes 20 – 30 minutes. You can use it at home, too – you might be walking with a neighbor and add in the upper body workout for more exercise. It's good to change things up.
Guide Nancy: Can disabled senior travelers use The Fit Traveler – Senior Edition?
Kari Eide: There are modifications, based on ability, balance and range of motion. More than half of the exercises in the Senior Edition are shown seated. The kit comes with a therapeutic resistance band, which is thinner than a typical band. You can upgrade to bands with more resistance at any time.
Guide Nancy: How long does the exercise band last?
Kari Eide: Bands last a year or so depending on use, but they are easy to replace. Some husbands and wives buy a senior book and an extra band because the extra bands aren't expensive. (Author's note: Extra bands are $3.95 each.) As you use the program, you would want to move up to a heavier band. Our bands are longer – over five feet long – than the average band. The exercise band that comes with our kit was designed just for us. We wanted something that was of good quality and stylish.
Some seniors don't want to buy the Senior Edition, depending on how fit they are. This [The Fit Traveler: Take Your Workout With You] is for the average Joe American. It's a money-saving program that's not intimidating. No one is looking at you, like you think they are at the gym. It's time-saving, too. You don't have to drive to the gym, work out and shower.
Guide Nancy: I understand that The Fit Traveler – Senior Edition also includes diet tips for you to use while on the road. Can you give me an example of one of those tips?
Kari Eide: Plan snacks ahead of time or even bring your own. Snack time is the hardest when you're traveling. You're left with high-calorie, high-priced items. Bringing snacks can save time, money and calories.
If it's a time you wouldn't eat at home, don't eat on vacation.
Share a small plate with someone else and get a salad.
Sugary drinks like mai tais have 400 to 500 calories each.
Hydration is key, especially for long air flights. You sometimes mistake thirst for hunger.
Guide Nancy: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about the Senior Edition or about staying fit while traveling?
Kari Eide: The kit has a log for tracking workouts and destination information. It can be used as a mini travel journal. I think the most important thing is that there is hope. If you look at my story, it looked like there was nowhere for me to go, but to see this coming out of it [the accident] is just amazing.