Sitting for long hours on a plane will stiffen your joints and muscles, and reduce blood flow around the body. Being immobile and sitting in cramped spaces with little legroom for extended periods increases the chance of blood clots forming in your legs. This can be avoided by keeping mobile, but that can often be a challenge while you are on board. Fortunately, there are a few simple stretches you can do while you remain in your seat. You'll reduce the chance of getting thrombosis, plus it will help you feel fresh when you walk off the plane.
Below are some stretching exercises you can do in your seat on the plane. Put your tray table up and recline your seat all the way to give yourself a little extra room. Hold each stretch for five long controlled breaths (that's about 20 seconds).
Start with Relaxing Breathing Exercises
- Sit up straight, with both feet flat on the floor.
- Pull your shoulders down and back, hands resting on your lap.
- Close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths.
- Tilt your head to one side, ear to your shoulder; repeat to the opposite side.
- Tilt your head forward, chin to chest (for a deeper stretch, place a hand on the back of your head, and gently pull your head forward).
- Look straight ahead. Turn your head first to one side, and then to the other.
- Shrug your shoulders. When lowering your shoulders, concentrate on pulling your shoulder blades down and back. Repeat five times.
- Place one hand next to you or on the seat beside you, palm facing down. Reach up and over with your other hand. Repeat on the other side.
- Extend your arms out in front of you, interlacing your fingers. Tuck your chin to your chest and round out your back, reaching as far ahead with your hands as possible.
- Open your chest by clasping your hands behind your back.
- Rotate your trunk first to one side, then to the other.
- Reaching as high overhead as you can with both hands.
- Hug one knee to your chest. Alternate sides, repeating five times.
- Raise your heels up and down. Repeat 10 times.
- Raise your toes up and down. Repeat 10 times.
- Lift your knee and rotate your ankle for five circles in one direction, and then five circles in the opposite direction.
- Airport Stopovers — a guide to keeping fit at the airport.
- Stretching Guidelines
- More travel fitness
- Avoiding Jet Lag
- Workouts that travel — how to stick with a workout program when away from home.