GMC Blog

7 Plane Exercises for Long Flights

At the end of a long flight, you may feel groggy, sore, numb, and pretty miserable overall. Making just a few simple changes to your flying routine could help you feel refreshed and ready to move by the time you land. Even though you don’t have a lot of room on an airplane, there are still several helpful exercises you can do to keep your blood flowing and prevent your limbs from getting stiff. Regular movement can help prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis (a condition where blood clots form from extended periods of sitting) and leave you feeling healthier and more energetic as you depart your flight.

Before You Fly

Treating your body well before you even board the plane is key to having a good flight experience. Don’t succumb to the temptation to sit around a terminal for hours before your flight leaves! Take advantage of the room you have to move around and limber up before being confined to a chair.

Before you fly, make sure to follow these tips:

  • Walk it out: You have an entire airport to explore. Take advantage of the time you have to walk around and stretch out before you fly. Avoid sitting as much as possible and focus on stretching your muscles. Some airports even have special rooms for yoga, meditation, and relaxation.
  • Eat light meals: Downing a greasy airport burger right before takeoff isn’t going to bode well for you. A heavy meal will be more difficult to digest and may even impede your sleep later on. Instead, choose a light meal and pack veggies and fruits for snacks during your flight.
  • Wear comfortable clothes: Airplanes are notorious for their changing temperatures. Wear lightweight layers that are comfortable and don’t restrict blood flow.
  • Avoid excess caffeine: Caffeine will contribute to dehydration. Avoid excessive amounts of tea or coffee and opt for water instead. Adding cucumbers, mint, or fruit to your water can help you drink more throughout the flight.

Your body will thank you for planning ahead for flight conditions.

Exercises during the Flight

Even the roomiest of flights can leave you feeling cramped if you don’t move around as much as possible during the flight. Doing these exercises can help you feel refreshed and kill time as well!

Seven exercises to try during your next flight:

  • Ankle Rolls: Lift both feet off of the floor in front of you. Roll both ankles in a circle for five times clockwise and five times counterclockwise. Repeat this five times.
  • Shoulder Stretches: Grab your left shoulder with your right hand. Then, grab your right elbow with your left hand. Stretch out your shoulder and repeat on the other side.
  • Pointed Feet: While keeping your heels on the floor, point your toes up as far as possible. Then keep your toes on the floor and raise your heels as high as possible. Repeat five times.
  • Shoulder Shrugs: Roll your shoulders in circular movements forwards five times, then backwards five times. Repeat as often as you want.
  • Knees Up: Lean forward, grab your knee with both hands clasped tightly, raise your knee to your chest, hold and release. Repeat with the other leg after holding the position for 15 seconds.
  • Forward Lean: With both feet on the floor, suck your stomach in and reach down between your ankles. Hold for 15 seconds, then slowly stretch back up.
  • Neck Roll: Facing forward, lower your right ear to your right shoulder. Slowly straighten your head. Then, lower your left ear to your left shoulder. Repeat 10 times.

These exercises are easy, low-impact, and don’t even require you to leave your seat! As long as the seat belt lights are not on, get up and walk around the plane as much as possible. Even just a little bit of consistent movement can make a huge difference in how you feel after the flight.

This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a physician. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.