In-Flight Fitness: Simple Exercises For A Cramp-Free Plane Ride
Just as sitting at your desk for too long in one position can cause stiffness of joints, backaches and poor circulation, long-haul flights inevitably take their toll on the body too.
If the concept of in-flight exercises makes you nervous, don’t be – you won’t need to lift dumbbells or agitate the other passengers when it comes to getting a simple workout in the air. Most of these exercises can be done in your seat itself so take it slow and be sensitive to your body both before and during the journey.
Lower Body: Feet, Legs
If your seat on the plane has very little leg room and you’ve got several hours to go before landing, try low-impact exercises like ankle circles, foot pumps, knee lifts and others that could make a world of difference in combatting stiffness and cramping in your lower body.
Lean back in your seat and lift your feet off the floor, rotating one foot in a counter-clockwise circle and the other foot in a clockwise direction. Repeat these ankle ‘circles’ for 15 seconds before changing directions on both feet. Do this as often as you can on a long flight.
An alternative: sit up with your back straight against your seat (make sure the seat isn’t reclined), raise your leg, bend your knee to a 90-degree angle and roll your ankle several times in one direction before switching directions. Do the same thing with the other leg for the benefit of your ankles and thighs.
Foot pumps are even simpler: with your heels on the ground, gently lift your toes as high as you can. Then place both feet on the floor before lifting your heels while the balls of your feet remain on the floor. That’s it! Repeat these simple motions for 30 seconds to loosen up those tired, stiff feet.
Ever heard of shoulder rolls and neck rolls? To do shoulder rolls, hunch your shoulders forward, relaxing them into place before moving them upward, backward and downwards (as if you’re drawing circles with your shoulders).
Neck rolls aren’t much different: lower your shoulders like you would when breathing out slowly and bend your head slightly to one side. Then gently roll your head clockwise and repeat it on the opposite side.
Don’t wait to go to the bathroom to stretch your legs with a good walk up and down the aisles. While you’re making use of every available inch of free aisle space, look for unoccupied places to do small stretches.
Standing straight with your legs slightly apart, stretch your arm above your head, bend it at the elbow and let the palm of that hand rest on the top of your back. With your other hand, gently pull on the elbow of this arm, keeping your palm in place and shoulders down.
Don’t forget the benefits of a workout before a flight: besides the endorphins released from this workout, you’ll cut down the chances of cramping, swelling, and muscle pains considerably.