It’s the beginning of a brand new year and the pressure is mounting to successfully keep our resolutions. According to USA.gov, the most widely reported resolutions for 2013 include:
- Drink Less Alcohol
- Eat Healthy Food
- Get a Better Education
- Get a Better Job
- Get Fit
- Lose Weight
- Manage Debt
- Manage Stress
- Quit Smoking
- Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
- Save Money
- Take a Trip
- Volunteer to Help Others
It’s pretty clear that the most popular New Year resolutions revolve around self-help, self-improvement and health and fitness. So why should travelling by air interfere with our ability to stay the course with our health and fitness goals?
We should be able to travel and stay fit. This means that airports have unique opportunities to help us as well as to capitalize on this annual consumer mindset that includes the overall healthy living trend already sweeping America. It’s great to find that some airports have already embraced the trend by incorporating healthy improvements to enhance the overall passenger experience at their airport.
It is common knowledge that in advance of long flights or in between flights, passengers benefit from activity and should move around or exercise, rather than sitting in lounges, on barstools or in the gate areas. Long periods of inactivity in cramped seats on board aircraft can lead to potential health hazards, including deep vein thrombosis.
Since much of travel time is actually spent at terminals (especially during flight cancellations and delays), airports can and should create opportunities to facilitate passenger well-being by promoting activities like walking, exercise, meditating or healthy eating. This ultimately benefits travelers by helping them arrive at their distant destinations feeling better and with more energy.
So what healthy activities can travellers find at their airports today?
Last January, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) opened what they refer to as the ‘first ever’ Yoga Room at an airport. Described as a quiet, softly lit 150-square-foot room that was formerly storage space, the yoga studio is located in SFO’s Terminal 2, just beyond the security checkpoint. It is available to all ticket passengers and there is no need to worry about classes or instructors. The room just has some mats and a couple of chairs, allowing passengers to do their own yoga exercises at their own pace. And everyone knows that getting on board an aircraft in a relaxed state certainly can make flying much more pleasant for everyone.
Later last year, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport also opened a yoga studio between Terminals D and B that offers basic yoga equipment including exercise mats, and for newbies, there is a beginner’s yoga video they can watch.
Similar to some mega cruise ships that boast exercise decks and tracks, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is providing options for passengers to get active and stay heart healthy. The airport has teamed up with the American Heart Association for their Start Walking program and travellers can now choose to walk the 1.4 mile walking path at Terminal 1-Lindbergh, staying active rather than sitting in the gate area awaiting flight departures.
In-terminal gyms are also gaining popularity and a handful of them have already turned up at U.S. and international airports. These full service exercise facilities offer healthier options for passengers to adhere to their regular exercise routines whether on extended layovers, or if they are stranded at the airport by weather or other delays.
At the Detroit Metro Airport, The Westin Fitness Center is located in the Northwest terminal and offers a basic gym including treadmills, weights and free weights for a $15 daily fee. Visitors to the gym also have access to the showers and towels, but the pool access is for hotel guests only.
In Las Vegas at McCarron International Airport, there is a 24 Hour Fitness in Terminal C where non-member passengers can obtain a $10 guest workout pass that gives them unlimited access to the entire 14,000-square-foot facility that has a large selection of cardio machines, weight machines and free weights, not to mention the option to rent workout clothing.
At Boston Logan International Airport, the Hilton Health Club and Spa is connected by sky bridges to five different terminals for ease of access to the gym. The fitness center has a full gym with a pool, whirlpool and sauna and offers visitors a day rate of $10. For frequent travellers, there is a multi-day option available as well.
Near Airport Gyms
Some airports just do not have the space to build in terminal fitness centers, but that does not mean there is not a gym close by. Kevin Gillotti, an avid workout enthusiast and frequent traveller, started a website called AirportGyms.com that lists all fitness facilities at airports or within a maximum of a 15- minute ride from an airport.
After exercise, other airport fitness developments include finding healthier food options at airport restaurants.
Interestingly enough, some progress on this has been reported. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reviewed the food served at some of the country’s busiest airports and found that many airport restaurants include healthful options on their menus as compared to 10 years ago.
The research examined 18 major airports in the U.S. and found that about three quarters of the airport food concessions offered at least one low-fat, high-fiber, cholesterol-free vegetarian entrée.
While the opportunity to find healthier food at airports is an improvement over past years, there is still much work to be done in adding more healthy choices at some of the nation’s busiest airports.
Personally, I think airports need to make their own resolution this year to do more to provide their passengers with healthier lifestyle choices while travelling.
If you have seen or heard unique healthy options at airports that we should know about, send them to me. Or you can send me your ideas and suggestions which I will include in a future round-up article. For all travelers, may 2013 be a much healthier and happier travel experience!
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Agnes Huff, PhD, has more than 25 years of experience providing specialized strategic public relations and marketing, crisis management and business consulting to a diverse group of clients in the aviation industry. In 1995, she founded Agnes Huff Communications Group (AHCG) an integrated marketing and PR consulting firm headquartered in Los Angeles. Clients include national and international airports and airlines, government entities, travel and tourism organizations, and transportation companies, among other high-profile industry clients. She welcomes feedback and will respond to comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on AHCG is available at www.ahuffgroup.com.