I love flying and I love exercise, and the two aren’t always compatible, so what are the best ways to exercise on a plane journey? It’s very tempting to read a book or watch a movie but before you know it, two hours have passed and you haven’t moved a muscle. Remaining seated for long periods of time can have a negative effect on your health and plane journeys are no exception. I'm not condoning activities that will mean you will gain membership to that famous club in the sky (although that is a good way to exercise!) nor am I suggesting a full-blown Jillian Michaels inspired work out in the aisles. Exercise however, is important to avoid deep vein thrombosis and there are movements and stretches you can do to minimize health risks. Some are subtler than others but they’re all effective, so here are my best ways to exercise on a plane.
1. No Mean Feet
Flying can affect your body’s ability to return fluid to the heart and gravity can mean that fluid collects in your feet. This is why exercising is important. Lift both of your feet off the floor and draw circles with your toes with one foot moving clockwise and the other moving anti clockwise. Follow this with foot rocks. Point your heals upwards then place your feet flat on the floor. Then lift your heals but keep the balls of your feet on the floor. Repeat for thirty seconds. This exercise will increase circulation and reduce the likelihood of swelling and is one of the best ways to exercise on a plane.
2. Walk This Way
Getting out of your seat and stretching your legs is a given on any flight but you can add a little spice to your usual gait. Add a few lunges on your way to the toilet and back. This is my favorite one and will certainly amuse your fellow passengers. Who cares if you look a bit silly; chances are you're never going see any of these people again!
3. The Toilet Wait Stretch
Once you’ve lunged your way to the bathroom and made everyone laugh, you don't have to stop there. If it’s engaged, don’t squander the gift of standing, do some stretches while you're waiting. It's much easier to do stretches when you're standing than it is sitting so make the most of it. Take one arm and bend it over your shoulder and with your other arm, reach for your elbow and stretch. Repeat on the other side. If you’re really feeling adventurous do some twists to loosen those tense muscles.
4. Neck and Shoulders
Neck and shoulder exercises are great for relieving stress and tension on flights and at work too. Roll your neck from left to right and then stretch slightly each side. Shoulder rolls will also increase circulation. Repeat this every half an hour to relieve tension and loosen muscles.
5. Stairway to Heaven
Flying can cause the blood vessels in your legs to compress, which could make it harder for the blood to get back to your heart. OK, so there are no stairs unless you're on a huge plane but in the absence of steps you can do knee lifts, which involves lifting each knee up off the seat and alternating as though you’re climbing imaginary stairs. Do this for about 30 seconds and then hold each knee whilst keeping your back straight.
6. Back Stretches
Sitting down for long periods of time can also put stress in your back. Your muscles can become tense during flight, which could result in backache long after you’ve arrived at your destination. Alleviate the stiffness by slowly lowering your upper body down so that your chest is touching your thighs. Try to engage your abdominals at the same time to increase core strength and get a mini-ab work out at the same time.
7. Fight and Flight
This is my favorite exercise, period. Punch forward (without hitting the seat in front of you) and engage your abdominals at the same time. Follow this with upward punches. You will feel your heart rate increase slightly and it’s a great stress-relieving move.
Obviously you don't want to annoy your fellow passengers but hopefully they’ll see you and follow suit! It’s not just exercises you should be doing on a plane though. There are other things you should remember to stay healthy during flight. For example, avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine. So what do you do to avoid discomfort and stay healthy on plane journeys?