I remember sitting on a flight between Bangkok and Dusseldorf in economy class. I had a window seat, but the plane was full, which meant I felt like a sardine smashed against a window at 30,000 feet – on a 12-hour flight.
About 2 hours into the flight, my legs started cramping, my hips felt tight, and my back was aching. I thought there was no way I was going to make it without driving my neighbors and myself crazy. That flight inspired me to seek out the best ways to exercise and treat your body on long-haul flights. I researched, studied, and found the best ways to feel amazing during â and after â your flight.
This is important not only for comfort, but flying can also pose serious health risks, from, circulation and heart concerns to respirator concerns. Be sure to check with your doctor if you have any concerns. This post is not a replacement for medical advice. With that said, here is what works to make your flight comfortable, easy, and arrive feeling fantastic:
Airplane Exercises and How to Recover From a Long-Haul Flight
The best preparation for a comfortable flight comes before flying. The airplane environment, with its forced, circulated air, can be very dehydrating. Be sure to drink extra water for 24 hours before so you are well hydrated by the time you arrive on the plane. Side effects of dehydration include muscle aches and back pain, so prevention is a good idea!
Remember to think of not only internal dehydration, but external too! Bring some good quality lotion and slather it on your skin. Flying is dehydrating for the skin and your skin is the largest organ in the body, so it is important to take care of it! A layer of lotion helps protect your skin during and after the trip. Put some on before you fly, and plan to put on more lotion afterwards. If you want to arrive looking dew-y, put some lotion on your face every couple hours during the flight as well.
Supplements help manage stress and boost immunity â both essential during travel. Magnesium levels get depleted during times of stress and with travel. Even if you are traveling relatively stress-free, it is still a big change for your body and magnesium will help support that.
I take 100% of the daily value in supplement form for at least a week before flying, and also during the trip. Low magnesium levels can also lead to muscle cramping and weakness, as well as increased cardiovascular risks.
Because magnesium helps to manage stress and balance hormone production, it is even more important during travel. It can also help you relax and fall asleep, so a good time to take at least half of the dose is right before bed.
For immunity, Vitamin C is a star. Itâs a good supplement to boost your immune system to ward off any bugs you encounter during travel and can also boost energy levels. A strong immune system means a more comfortable trip. I like vitamin C powder, and ester C, for the purity and effectiveness.
Increase fruit and veggies
The week before travel is also not the time to binge on pizza and ice cream. Be sure to get lots of fruits and vegetables into your system. Not only will you arrive with glowing skin, but also the extra fiber and antioxidants will help your body remove toxins and improve overall functioning. That means you will feel better! It is always good to start a trip feeling great. If you did have a junk food binge, donât beat yourself up, just try to get more fruits and veggies in at the next meal.
Once you are on the plane, you are a captive in a flying aluminum, recycled-air contraption. That is not the most romantic description of flying, but it is, unfortunately, not that far from the truth. It is not something more body is naturally used to, and definitely puts stress on your system.
That means the keys to help your body recover from this stress are simple exercises, hydration, healthy food and rest. Your body is incredibly intelligent! Given these components, flying and recovery will be easy.
Try to get up every hour to walk up and down the aisle a few times, to move a little, whenever you are not asleep. I also like to stand in the galley and do squats and stretches for 10 minutes every few hours. Here are a few good exercises and stretches:
- Lunge from side to side
- Squat up and down
- Stand with your legs wide apart and touch your toes alternately (first left, then right)
- Stand upright, lifts your legs and touch your knees
- Bend over and stretch your sides
- March in place
- Balance on one leg, and then the other
- Twist the body so you are looking over one shoulder, and then the other
If you donât want to get out of your seat, you can still stretch:
- Move your ankles up and down 10 to 20 times.
- Scrunch and un-scrunch your toes repeatedly to increase circulation in your lower legs.
- Bend over and touch your toes then reach your arms up directly above you as high as you can.
- Twist in your seat and touch the back of the seat with one arm and then the other.
If you repeat this simple circuit a few times, you will start to feel more energized and relaxed, and help your body to recover from the stress of the flight.
Once you arrive at your destination, recovery is all about giving your body what it needs to work: rest, water, healthy foods, sunshine, and movement. Here is your simple recovery plan:
- Get out in the sunshine and get some exercise. Even a 20-minute walk counts. If you are more ambitious, plan a long hike, bike ride, or city walking tour.
- Fill up on fruits and vegetables at the start of each meal. These will give you extra nutrients that will not only give you more energy and keep extra weight at bay, but also help you recover from that long flight.
- Go to bed a little earlier and sleep in, if you can.
- Plan a short 30-minute nap for the day you arrive to give yourself an energy boost.
- Drink extra water. Start with 3-4 cups right when you arrive to re-hydrate after the trip and be sure to keep drinking water throughout the day.
- Slather on that lotion, or some healing oils, to rejuvenate your skin!
Wrapping it up
Long distance travel can be tiring and stressful, but it doesnât have to be. By preparing ahead of time, moving during the flight, and treating your body to recovery afterwards, but can feel more energetic and ready to go on your next vacation. You will discover new ways to feel even better and enjoy the next trip even more.
To your health,
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