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In-Flight Exercise Tips for Long Haul Flights

Whether you’re embarking on a long haul flight for business or leisure travel, exercise and movement is important to your comfort and health. Remaining in your seat for the entire flight is impossible for most travellers and uncomfortable for all. It can also pose a health hazard by causing blood clots in the legs that can burst, become lodged elsewhere and threaten your health. Simple in-flight exercises done throughout the flight help you stay comfortable while keeping you safe.

Take a Walk

Take a short walk up and down the aisle every half hour when you’re flying for longer than three hours. This gets your legs moving and helps the blood circulate through your body. Walking is an important exercise to do to avoid deep vein thrombosis — blood clots that can form in the legs. It also gives your muscles and back a short rest from being cramped in the seat and helps break up the boredom that can occur after you’ve read every magazine and watched all the in-flight movies.

Uncramp Your Legs

In-between walks it’s a good idea to stretch your legs to prevent uncomfortable leg cramps. Alternately flex and point your toes to stretch and relax your calf muscles. Hold your legs together then raise and lower your knees a few times to move the muscles in your thighs. Throughout the flight, alternately sit with your legs stretched out and moved closer to you to prevent your muscles from feeling stiff.

Ease a Sore Back

Sitting in a confined space for a prolonged period of time can cause a lot of back pain. To relieve and prevent discomfort in the lower back you can decompress your spine. Gather your knees up to your chest and wrap your arms around them as if to give them a hug. Pull your knees to you and hold the position for a few seconds to stretch your spine.

Avoid a Headache

There are only so many places you can look while sitting on a long flight. Watching movies, looking out the window or staring at the back of the seat in front of you can contribute toward headaches. To avoid landing at your destination with a bothersome headache, stretch your neck and massage your face a bit to relieve tension. Slowly turn your head to the left and hold it there for a few seconds. Repeat this by looking to the right, then up and down to stretch your neck evenly. End by gently massaging your temples and forehead with your fingertips.

Isometric Exercises

Isometrics is a type of exercise that involves squeezing the muscles and holding the contraction for a specific count before releasing the muscle. Not only do isometrics strengthen muscles, they also help release tension. Since space is limited on an airplane, isometric exercises are an ideal way to relieve tense muscles without getting out of your seat. Arm, leg and buttock muscles can be clenched for ten seconds each, and then released. Repeat these a few times for each muscle to prevent or get rid of muscle cramps.

Bathroom Exercises

This one might seem odd but since you’re not likely to risk embarrassment by doing squats or calf raises in the aisle, even the small space in the bathroom allows you to do these two exercises. Stand on your tiptoes and raise yourself up and down a few times to stretch your calves. Squat down to relieve stiff thighs and lower back.

The longer your flight, the more you should repeat these exercises. Doing so helps keep you comfortable during travel, while ensuring that you’re ready to go once you arrive at your destination.

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