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Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Prevention and Safety While Traveling Abroad

Traveling to a foreign country for a large, global event such as the Olympics, holiday events and more requires much preparation in order to stay safe and healthy through the duration of the trip. Michele Kettles, MD, MSPH, Chief Medical Officer of Cooper Clinic, offers tips for travelers embarking on journeys abroad.

Pre-Trip Preparation

Once you finalize plans to travel abroad, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and select the country to which you will be traveling. The website provides information about required vaccinations needed before traveling to the country along with other travel warnings and tips. Dr. Kettles recommends visiting a Passport Health® travel clinic to receive vaccinations and medications specific for the country you are visiting and the activities planned during your trip.

When it comes time to pack for your trip, consider the following:

  • Bring any over-the-counter medications you may need, such as Afrin® or Sudafed®. These can be difficult to obtain in a foreign country.
  • If you’re worried about diarrheal or respiratory issues while traveling, ask your doctor about prescribing an antibiotic. Dr. Kettles recommends a Z-Pak; another antibiotic that is common for travelers, Cipro, is being phased out by many doctors because it can cause harmful side effects.
  • If you’ll be using your cell phone while traveling abroad, talk to your wireless service provider about access in the country you’re traveling to, or if you need to set up an international service plan for your time abroad.
  • Download Google Translate on your phone or portable device if you don’t speak the language of the country you’re traveling to. You’ll want to know how to communicate upon arrival and should an emergency occur during your trip.
  • Make a copy of your passport, and pack it separately from the original. If you become stranded without identification in a foreign country, odds are your stress level will increase dramatically and your vacation may be cut short.
  • Provide a family member or friend with your travel itinerary and contact information for the duration of your trip.

A Safe Trip is a Fun Trip

A safe trip abroad begins while you’re en route to your destination—oftentimes, this can be a long flight. Blood clots, also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) are a primary concern for travelers who must sit on planes for hours at a time. Make sure to stand up and walk around when it is safe to do so, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and don’t take medication that will leave you asleep for hours on end. Immobilization from sleeping for the duration of a long flight leaves you at a higher risk for blood clots.

Upon arrival, be smart about what you eat and drink. In many countries, tap water and ice may not be safe to drink for visitors. Eating certain foods can be risky as well. If possible, try to eat foods you can wash, peel and cook. Steer clear of foods at buffets and salad bars, as you won’t know how well uncooked food was washed and if it has contaminated other foods around it.

Additionally, go the extra mile to prevent illness and injury. For example, if you’re visiting an area where malaria or the Zika virus is present, taking medication before the trip may not be enough. Wear mosquito-repellent clothing and use sprays and nets to protect yourself, and prevent the risk altogether by avoiding going outside at dusk and dawn, when mosquitos are most active.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

According to Dr. Kettles, motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of injury and death to Americans while traveling abroad. Be cautious of how you plan to get around while traveling, because options can vary greatly depending on where you are traveling. Don’t hop on the first form of public transportation you come across—be choosy about motor vehicles you ride in, and make sure to wear a seat belt.

In situations such as the Olympics, Super Bowl or World Cup, it’s important to be diligent about your personal safety. People travel from around the world to attend these events, and criminals do the same. Be aware of your surroundings at all times:

  • Don’t go out at night in strange or unsafe areas
  • Avoid flaunting glamorous clothes or accessories in public
  • Be prepared and knowledgeable about where you are going—try not to look like an obvious target if you are lost or unsure about something

Be Prepared for the Worst

It never hurts to be overly prepared and cautious when it comes to your health and safety, especially when traveling away from home. Bringing your medical records with you to a foreign country is a good idea, especially if you have a significant medical condition. At the very least, make sure to carry a complete list of medications and brief medical history summary.

If you suffer an injury or illness and end up in a hospital in a foreign country, it’s important to be aware of your treatments. Depending on where you are, the blood supply at the hospital may not be as well policed as it is in the United States. Screening blood for HIV, hepatitis and other infections varies country to country. If you can avoid blood transfusions and any use of needles, it is best to do so.

Being up-to-date on all common vaccinations in the United States can help reduce your risk of infection in another country, but being prepared for specific risks is key to having an enjoyable and safe trip abroad. For more information about Cooper Clinic, visit cooper-clinic.com or call 972.560.2667.

Travel insurance can be a smart purchase, especially for expensive trips or places where medical evacuation could be needed.  These policies are now widely available.

For more health tips articles, visit cooperaerobics.com.

Taking Fitness on the Road

September 2, 2013 Leave a comment

Do you sometimes feel like you live in a hotel room? Just because we leave town doesn’t mean we have to leave behind our fitness routine. Learn more about simple yet effective ways to stay in shape while on the road. Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer April Swales gives advice for your travels this Labor Day.

It happens on every vacation. We’re getting ready for a trip and as we load our suitcase, we decide that we mustn’t forget our workout clothes. Of course we’re going to get up early each morning, use the hotel workout facility and practice good judgment at each meal. Our intentions are genuine, but reality is a bit more tarnished. Why is it so hard to stay on the healthy track when we travel? Maybe we’re tired. Maybe we don’t feel comfortable working out in a strange place. Or maybe we don’t want to wait in line for limited equipment. Sound familiar?

First and foremost, our expectations need to be realistic. If your travels are taking you away on business and meetings will consume much of your energy, you’re more likely to skip those “good intentions,” i.e. workouts. Dining over business can also be difficult, especially when the meal includes cocktails and/or dessert. This usually leads to guilt, which can be frustrating and counterproductive. Falling off the wagon is not the real problem—the real issue is how long it takes for us to get back on. Allowing ourselves a small break from routine is OK, but we need to be cautious about how long that break is. If you plan to be gone more than a few days, then it’s best to try and get some sort of exercise while you’re away. Your travel exercise mantra should be, “Something is always better than nothing.” The good news is that you’ll only need a few simple tools to stay on task.

One of the easiest exercise travel tools you can own is the basic workout band with handles. They’re inexpensive (around $20 each), easy to find and they travel light. They come in many different resistance levels and often come packaged with a soft nylon door anchor already attached. All you need to add is a door that will shut completely when the anchor is in place. Nearly any exercise performed on a cable in the weight room can also be done with an exercise band and the proper amount of space. The door anchor makes it easy to place and you may secure the band at any level. Since you’ll be correcting your own posture as you exercise (vs. leaning back against the chair on a machine), you’ll be recruiting more muscles and strengthening your trunk. And don’t forget your own body weight plus gravity! Basic movements such as sit ups, push-ups, jumping jacks and squats are a great way to break a sweat and require no equipment at all. Click here to watch quick Exercise Move videos with Personal Trainers and Sports Pros at Cooper Fitness Center.

Anyone who uses applications on their smart phone understands how helpful they can be. There are so many exciting fitness applications out there, many of them free. You can download exercise demonstration photos, nutritional info and eating logs—you can even get an application that can track your movement via GPS and map out a walking or jogging route for you. Record keeping is an excellent way to motivate yourself, even when you’re not on the road.

Many hotels include fitness options for guests. Cooper Hotel offers complimentary access to Cooper Fitness Center for the duration of your stay. There are also options at certain hotels to have basic equipment in your room, free of charge. Marriott International, Inc. and Hilton Hotels Corp. offer in-room fitness options for business travelers. Both chains provide low-tech workout equipment such as mats, free weights and exercise bands. If you’re interested in fitness options at your hotel, ask the hotel concierge.

If you’re fortunate enough to be traveling for fun, try and mix some healthy activities into your itinerary. Wear comfortable shoes and walk whenever possible, try dancing with dinner or maybe hike and enjoy the scenery. The change in your routine will also help you recover from your normal workouts without being sedentary. Your body enjoys change just like your mind, even if what you’re doing is less strenuous than what you’re used to.

Inevitably, we will hit bumps on the road to health and wellness. But traveling should never be a roadblock. Being consistent, although challenging, is not impossible. Even with the best intentions, there will be times when we simply have to take a break. Budgeting your time off wisely with your diet will help. Remember that this lifestyle is a long term commitment and there will be peaks and valleys. Stay positive, stay focused and have fun!

For more information on Cooper Fitness Center services, click here or call 972.233.4832.

Healthy Vacation Eating

Vacation time is here! You deserve a break to relax and have a great summer. It’s very tempting to completely abandon your healthy habits when you go away, but you can still have a great time and avoid packing on the pounds this summer. Here are some tips:

  • Before heading to the airport, stock your bags with some healthy snacks. Nuts, granola bars, trail mix and apples all travel well.
  • Grab a turkey wrap and a fruit from home or a grilled chicken salad for the plane ride.
  • On the day of travel, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and go easy on the caffeine.
  • When you check in to your hotel, avoid the temptation of the mini-bar. Remember, you already have some great stuff to snack on when you feel hungry on your trip.
  • Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast! If your hotel serves a continental breakfast, take advantage of the fresh fruit, yogurt and cereal.
  • Try to structure your meals during the day about three to four hours apart so that your hunger doesn’t get out of control.
  • Try not to make every meal a vacation celebration! Splurge responsibly and strike a balance. If you eat a heavy meal at lunch, eat a lighter dinner. Order a salad before the meal and skip the bread basket. Split a few appetizers or an entrée as your meal.
  • If you have a sweet tooth (like me!) save some “fun” calories for dessert, but ask for a few extra forks to share the treat. If you order a bottle of wine, skip on the dessert.

The bottom line is: be mindful of the choices you make on vacation, but don’t drive yourself crazy. After all, you’re supposed to take a break and have fun. Practice sensible splurging and you will come home feeling refreshed and not bogged down with extra baggage.

What healthy habits do you plan to practice on your summer vacation?

Elana Zimelman is a registered and licensed dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Cooper Clinic. For more information on nutrition consultations, call 972-560-2655.