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8 Steps to Stay Healthy on Your Next Flight

Flying is hard on the body; the food is usually fairly nutritionally vapid, the air quality leaves much to be desired, and sitting in the downright uncomfortable chairs is almost unbearable. I am almost six feet tall -- when I fly I feel like I am squished in a suitcase the entire time.

Plus, traveling disrupts healthy habits -- which, for most of us, are hard to form and oh so easy to break.

The trick is -- as with everything to do with health -- to always brainstorm possible solutions in advance, come up with a plan of action, cultivate mindfulness and own your choices. Instead of looking for excuses, look for solutions!

Here are some solutions.

  • Travel with healthy snacks.
  • If you can’t pack snacks, research the restaurants in the airport so you can decide -- in advance -- on the healthiest option.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Wear compression socks.
  • Keep a food journal.
  • Keep track of your steps. Pace the airport if needed.
  • Travel with running shoes, a resistance band and/or a skipping rope so that you can always work out in your hotel room.
  • During every flight, do the routine below once per hour. When I remember to do it, I feel noticeably better.

Your Flying Routine

Tall sitting: Sit up tall by imagining a piece of string is pulling your head up to the ceiling. Draw your shoulders back (crack an imaginary walnut in between your shoulder blades) while simultaneously tucking your chin so that you give yourself a double chin. Hold this position for five seconds. Relax, then repeat five times.

Shoulder rolls: In the above tall position, roll your shoulders backward then forward 10 times.

Gentle rotations: In the above tall position, turn your head and chest gently to the right. To deepen the stretch, use your left hand to pull slightly on your right knee. Hold for 15 seconds. Then repeat, rotating to the left.

Armrest pulls: Reach your right arm to the left corner of the seat in front of you. Round your back slightly, feel a stretch up your right arm and through the right side of your back. Hold for 20 seconds, then switch sides.

Ankle circles: Promote blood flow to your lower body with ankle rotations. Lift your right foot off of the floor and rotate your right ankle clockwise and then counter-clockwise 10 times. Switch and repeat with your left ankle.

When you get up to go to the bathroom try these two stretches:

Quad stretch: Stand on your left leg. Grab your right ankle and pull it toward your bum. Engage your abs and push the right hip forward. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Lunge stretch: Step your right leg behind you. Bend both knees slightly. Tuck your pelvis so your hip bones curl toward your ribs. Hold for 20 seconds, then switch legs.