updated 8/3/2007 6:00:58 PM ET 2007-08-03T22:00:58

Whether you're traveling for work or pleasure, time away from home is no longer a good reason for spending time away from the gym.

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Not only does on-the-road exercise relieve stress, but it can also alleviate jet lag and help combat the effects of that fast food you grabbed in the airport.

And more and more Americans are catching on.

In a 2006 survey of more than 1,400 frequent travelers by Coyle Hospitality Group, a consulting firm that works with hotels, restaurants and spas worldwide, more than 50 percent indicated at least some likelihood of using hotel fitness facilities.

But, although many hotel chains are now teaming up with fitness gear brands — such as Hilton Hotels' partnership with Precor — to upgrade their facilities, hotel gyms still tend to vary in quality. Experts say if you know you're heading to accommodations with poor or simply run-of-the-mill services, packing the latest in portable exercise equipment is a smart choice.

"You should take anything along with you that's going to get you over that barrier of feeling like you don't want to work out," says Jim Kaese, co-founder of the Web site AthleticMindedTraveler.com.

Packing smart
Kaese, who used to travel often while working as a lawyer, developed the online guide knowing how frustrating it can be when a concierge's idea of a running route consists of a few laps around the parking lot. The site contains recommendations for fitness-focused hotels, running routes and restaurants with healthy options.

He advises travelers who want to get their heart rates going to concentrate on a cardio, rather than strength, workout to give their immune systems a boost and increase blood flow. Besides sneakers, Kaese suggests packing gear such as the bright yellow Brooks Visibility Running Cap and a GPS system.

One handy option is the new Trimble Outdoors AllSport GPS application, which can be downloaded to several Sprint and Nextel phones and lets users download street and satellite maps of their routes, as well as track their distance, speed and calories burned. It can store performance results in a weekly log, says Rich Rudow, managing director for Trimble Outdoors. Forget remembering to bring along a heart-rate monitor on your next trip — just pull out your phone.

Beyond running
If you're looking to change up your fitness routine, why not take advantage of the infrequently used hotel pool?

The AquaVee Portable Swim System, which weighs about a pound, lets you swim laps in any size pool with the help of an inflatable belt that attaches you to a pool wall via resistance bands and high-pressure suction cups. The system now comes in a package with handle and leg attachments designed for Pilates exercises too.

"Being on the road is such a repetitive thing," says Alberto Roque, the product's inventor and a Miami-based investment banker. "You may be visiting the same account for the third time this year, staying at the same hotel, using the same treadmill. You even get to know the machines. This really breaks that monotony."

Another option that could give you a more scenic workout is the TRX Suspension Trainer, a system of adjustable, industrial strength straps that allow people to use their bodyweight for resistance.

The pro model package, which weighs less then two pounds and folds up into the size of a shoe, comes with an anchor that can be fixed to a lakeside tree. And for those trips when you can't make it to the park or the weather doesn't cooperate, it can just as easily attach to your hotel room door with the help of a door anchor that's sold separately.

Keeping it simple
When you just need a basic workout, you can't go wrong with a Harbinger Fitness Ball, which comes in a variety of colors and weights ranging from one to four pounds. Roughly palm-sized, they fit snugly into any suitcase corner and will help you build strength and endurance by isolating specific muscle groups.

Perhaps more important, a downloadable exercise guide, available at HarbingerFitness.com, can show you how to use the equipment to perform knee lift twists, pelvic thrusts and reverse lunges.

Because after a long day of traveling the easier it is to start your workout, the less likely you'll be to skip it.

© 2012 Forbes.com

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