It can be hard to continue practicing your healthy lifestyle routine at conferences or long meetings. Often, a lot of things are out of our control. Most of us don’t normally have control over the lunch menu or daily schedule for example.
Here are five basic tips you can use at your next conference to help you stay healthy:
1) Fly healthy. Most conferences we attend are not in the same city we live in. If you need to fly to get to a conference don’t forget to stay hydrated! I normally have a game I play that I have to drink a 16 ounce bottle of water before I get to the security line. The percent of humidity in the aircraft cabin is a lot lower than what we are normally used to and can lead to dehydration, which could result in fatigue. If your conferences are as busy as mine that is the last thing you want. It is also important to fuel your body with healthy snacks and meals during the flight to keep your energy level up. If you are flying during a mealtime, choose a healthy meal to take on your flight and prevent you from buying some of the unhealthy snack options that are offered. If the healthier choices are in a different concourse don’t be lazy…just walk there to get your meal and a little exercise in!
2) Get sleep. There is always some dinner meeting or business reception going on every night, but don’t be tempted to stay out too late with colleagues or friends. Getting adequate sleep is really important at a busy conference to help you keep your stamina up and prevent you from getting sick. I personally am a fan of the conference midday nap. If there is a break in the schedule I run back to my room and put pjs on even if it is just for a thirty minutes to relax and recharge.
3) Practice proper hand hygiene! With the amount of hand shaking going on at these conferences washing your hands and packing hand sanitizer can make the difference between going home healthy or with a cold. At one conference, I met a wonderful dietitian from Australia. We had a lovely conversation outside a speaker session for over an hour. She emailed me a month after we met and told me that she had contracted Swine Flu at the conference. You just never know what germs you will end up shaking hands with.
4) Exercise. Sure, at some of these conference centers you are getting in a few extra steps running from one meeting hall to another, but it never hurts to squeeze in even thirty minutes of physical activity in your day. Exercising first thing in the morning or in the middle of the day can provide you with the energy you need to network, think, and listen at these meetings. Some health conscious conferences even have yoga classes or 5Ks in place to promote being active. Sign-up and take advantage of those options. Certain hotels are now even offering workout programs where they provide you with exercise clothes and shoes to help you get your workout in.
5) Eat mindfully. A lot of long meetings provide you with snacks or treats every few hours. It is hard not to grab that cookie at 3 PM just because it is sitting on the table in front of you. Pack healthy snacks to keep with you in your purse or brief case. Some of the easiest foods to pack are a small fruit, small bag of unsalted nuts, or granola bar. When dining out with colleagues, try ordering a meal that is 1/2 vegetables, 1/4 protein (ie meat, beans, nuts), and 1/4 starch (pasta, bread, rice). Also, to avoid unwanted weight gain at these conferences go easy on the desserts and alcohol!