Stuck in your seat during a long flight? Feeling stiff and uncomfortable? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! In this article, we’ll share airplane exercise tips that can help you stay healthy and energized during your journey. Let’s get moving!
- Exercising on a plane reduces the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and improves overall well-being
- Choose simple, easy-to-do exercises that don’t require much space
- Focus on stretching, muscle activation, and circulation exercises
- Practice proper posture to prevent muscle strain
- Stay hydrated and take breaks to walk around the cabin
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The Importance of Exercise on Long Flights
According to a study by the Aerospace Medical Association, passengers who exercise during long flights have a lower risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a potentially life-threatening condition. Dr. David Geier, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, emphasizes the benefits of in-flight exercise, stating, “Sitting for long periods of time on a plane can lead to stiff muscles, poor circulation, and even blood clots. Incorporating simple exercises into your flight routine can help prevent these issues and keep you feeling energized.”
With 70% of passengers surveyed by the International Air Transport Association believing that in-flight exercise is essential for their health and well-being, it’s time to dive into some airplane exercise tips to make your next flight more comfortable.
Exercises You Can Do in Your Seat
Here are some simple exercises you can do right from your airplane seat to keep your muscles active and your blood flowing:
1. Ankle circles
Lift one foot slightly off the ground and rotate your ankle in a circular motion. Do this for 10-15 seconds in each direction, then switch to the other foot. This exercise helps improve circulation in your lower extremities and reduces the risk of swelling.
2. Seated marches
While sitting, lift your right knee toward your chest, then lower it back down. Repeat with your left knee. Perform this exercise for 30 seconds to one minute. This helps activate your hip flexors and promotes blood flow.
3. Neck stretches
Gently tilt your head to one side, bringing your ear towards your shoulder. Hold for 15-20 seconds, then switch sides. This stretch relieves tension in your neck and shoulders.
Exercises to Do While Standing
When the seatbelt sign is off, take advantage of the opportunity to stand up and move around the cabin. Here are a few standing exercises to try:
1. Calf raises
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and slowly raise your heels off the ground, coming onto your tiptoes. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your heels back down. Repeat 10-15 times. This exercise strengthens your calf muscles and improves circulation in your legs.
2. Standing leg curls
Stand and hold onto a nearby seat or wall for balance. Bend one knee, bringing your heel towards your buttocks. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your foot back down. Repeat on the other side, performing 10-15 reps per leg. This exercise helps stretch your quadriceps and activate your hamstrings.
3. Forward bends
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and slowly bend forward at the hips, keeping your knees slightly bent. Reach for your toes, ankles, or shins, depending on your flexibility. Hold for 15-20 seconds, then slowly rise back up to a standing position. This stretch targets your hamstrings and lower back.
Posture and Ergonomics on a Plane
Maintaining proper posture during your flight is crucial to prevent muscle strain and discomfort. Follow these tips to ensure you’re sitting correctly:
- Adjust your seat: Make sure your lower back is supported by the seat’s lumbar support or use a rolled-up blanket or travel pillow for added cushioning.
- Keep your feet flat: Place your feet flat on the floor to maintain proper alignment of your spine and prevent strain on your lower back.
- Rest your arms: Use the armrests to support your arms and keep your shoulders relaxed.
- Adjust your screen: If you’re using an in-flight entertainment system, position the screen at eye level to prevent neck strain.
Stay Hydrated and Take Breaks
Drinking water and staying hydrated is essential during long flights. Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps, fatigue, and an overall feeling of discomfort. Aim to drink at least 8 ounces of water every hour during your flight. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they can contribute to dehydration.
Take breaks to walk around the cabin when the seatbelt sign is off. This helps promote circulation and stretch your muscles. Even just standing up for a few minutes can help reduce stiffness and discomfort.
Make Exercise Part of Your Travel Routine
By incorporating these airplane exercise tips into your travel routine, you’ll not only feel more comfortable during your flight but also arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and energized. Don’t forget to stretch and stay active throughout your trip to keep your body healthy and ready for adventure!
Exercises You Can Do in Your Seat
Not all airplane exercises require you to stand up and move around the cabin. There are several effective exercises you can do right from your seat to keep your blood flowing and your muscles engaged. Here are some in-seat exercises you can try:
- Ankle Circles: Lift one foot slightly off the floor and rotate your ankle in a circular motion. Do this for about 10-15 seconds, and then reverse the direction. Repeat with the other foot. This helps maintain good circulation in your lower legs and prevents swelling.
- Seated Leg Lifts: While seated, straighten one leg and lift it a few inches off the floor. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then lower it back down. Repeat with the other leg. This exercise strengthens your quadriceps and helps prevent stiffness.
- Foot Pumps: With both feet flat on the floor, lift your heels while keeping the balls of your feet on the ground. Then, lift the balls of your feet while keeping your heels on the floor. Repeat this pumping motion for about 30 seconds to improve circulation in your lower legs.
- Seated Marching: While seated, lift one knee up toward your chest, then lower it back down. Repeat with the other knee. Continue this marching motion for about 30 seconds to keep your hip flexors engaged and maintain good circulation.
- Shoulder Rolls: Sit up straight and roll your shoulders up, back, and down in a circular motion. Repeat for about 10-15 seconds, then reverse the direction. This exercise helps relieve tension in your neck and shoulders.
Stretching Exercises for Long Flights
Stretching is essential during long flights to keep your muscles from becoming stiff and sore. It’s important to stretch every major muscle group, focusing on the areas that tend to get the tightest during prolonged sitting, such as your neck, shoulders, back, hips, and legs. Here are some stretching exercises you can do while on an airplane:
- Neck Stretches: Gently tilt your head to one side, bringing your ear toward your shoulder. Hold for about 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side. You can also gently turn your head from side to side, holding each position for a few seconds.
- Shoulder Stretches: Reach one arm across your chest, using your other hand to gently pull it closer to your body. Hold for about 10 seconds, then repeat with the other arm. This stretch targets your deltoids and can help relieve tension in your upper back and shoulders.
- Back Stretches: While seated, twist your upper body to one side, placing your hand on the opposite knee to deepen the stretch. Hold for about 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side. This stretch helps alleviate stiffness in your lower back.
- Is it safe to exercise on an airplane?
Yes, it is safe to exercise on an airplane as long as you choose simple, low-impact exercises and follow any safety instructions provided by the flight crew.
- How often should I exercise during a flight?
It’s recommended to exercise at least once every hour during a flight, especially on long-haul flights. This can include stretching, muscle activation, and circulation exercises.
- Can I exercise during turbulence?
During turbulence, it is best to remain seated with your seatbelt fastened. Wait until the turbulence subsides before attempting any exercises.
- What should I do if I start to feel sore or cramped during a flight?
If you begin to feel sore or cramped, try performing some of the suggested exercises to stretch and activate your muscles. You can also adjust your posture, drink water, and take breaks to walk around the cabin when possible.
- Are there any exercises I should avoid while on an airplane?
Avoid exercises that require a lot of space or involve sudden movements, as they can be disruptive to other passengers or pose a safety risk during the flight.
- Aerospace Medical Association. (n.d.). Study on the benefits of in-flight exercise.
- Geier, D. (n.d.). Quote on the importance of in-flight exercise.
- International Air Transport Association. (n.d.). Survey on passengers’ perceptions of in-flight exercise.