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Travel exercises to do for a more enjoyable flight


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Exams are nearly over and the recent spell of sunshine has made most of us excited for the summer holidays that are just around the corner. Although we have been (hopefully) promised a few more sunshine-filled weeks here in the UK, most travellers will be seeking their dose of Vitamin D overseas.

Flying to our holiday destinations has become a sort of culture within itself, yet we all know that flying can often end with a feeling of anxiety and discomfort – headaches, swollen ankles and drowsiness are just a few symptoms that passengers may experience. 

Image Credit: bulletrain743 on Pixabay

I know this all too well; after a 36-hour journey from Australia to the UK, I could not wear closed shoes for two days and I didn't want to see an aeroplane seat ever again. All I can say is that I wish I listened to my grandmother when she told me to buy compression socks. I did heed some of her advice, though - spending the extra ten pounds on that memory foam neck pillow was totally worth it.

When on a plane, our bodies are under much more pressure. In addition to this outside change, we also remain seated in the same positions for hours at a time. Naturally, blood flow is restricted during this time, and along with the change in pressure, less oxygen is absorbed. This is what causes the typical symptoms many of us know too well, but for some, this is associated with anxiety.

Exercise and movement have been linked to a healthy body and mind and therefore would also show significant benefits for us when travelling.

London Stansted Airport, alongside Joan Murphy - fitness expert and co-founder of London based fitness studio FRAME – have compiled some tips on how to make your next air-bound journey more comfortable:

  • Try and walk around the airport before take-off – Heading to the bar before a flight has become a big part of the trip itself, but before you head to the bar try to walk around as much as possible to keep the blood flowing through the body, taking the stairs where possible. Should you be going straight to the bar, try standing while you drink instead of sitting.
  • Stay hydrated during the flight: In a vessel that is entirely temperature controlled and has continuous air conditioning running, it is not uncommon to start feeling a tickle in one's throat. More shockingly however is that due to this low level of humidity, a plane is three times dryer than the Sahara Desert. It is therefore vital to keep drinking water to stay hydrated to prevent the side-effects of dehydration.
  • Watch what you drink: Some drinks can actually bring undesired side-effects. Caffeine and alcohol can actually add majorly to feelings of anxiety as well as headaches and nausea.
  • Keep active and stretch: Stretching before a flight will improve in-flight circulation and reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis - a blood clot that develops within a deep vein in the body. There are lots of ways to stretch but let’s be honest most of us will be too embarrassed to drop into downward dog in front of hundreds of fellow travellers. Fear not, there are more subtle and effective ways to stretch.
Seated Hip Openers - 

  1. Take a seat, place your feet flat on the ground in front of you, hip-width apart.
  2. Make sure you are sitting up straight with your shoulders down and away from your ears.
  3. Lift your right leg and place your right ankle on your left knee with your right foot flexed.
  4. Keeping your back straight hinge from the hips and bring your chest slowly towards your lap.
  5. Hold and feel the hip releasing, stay here for five long breaths.
  6. Repeat all on the left leg. Feel free to do a couple of sets of this, and if you're lucky enough to have extra legroom, this is a great exercise to do in-flight.
Seated Twist - 

  1. Take a seat, place your feet flat on the ground in front of you, hip-width apart.
  2. Keeping your chest proud and your shoulders away from your ears start to twist to the right and bring your gaze over your right shoulder.
  3. Take your left hand and hold on to the side of your right thigh, use it to leverage you deeper into the twist.
  4. Make sure to keep both hips looking forward and your glutes - or your bum muscles - planted into the seat.
  5. Take 5 deep breaths here and release.
  6. Repeat on both sides and feel free to do more than one set.
  7. This move is excellent for cleansing and rinsing out your organs, which can get clogged when you are sitting for hours.
Seated Savasana 

This is a simple but very beneficial pose especially if you are feeling stressed or fatigued. It gives you a moment to breathe, get back into the body and go with the travel flow.

  1. Sit comfortably in a chair
  2. Close your eyes and let go of all muscle tension in the body.
  3. Keeping your eyes closed to notice the sensations in the body and let them pass without judgement.
  4. Stay here for as long as you can - recommended is a minimum of three minutes - and take deep breaths in and out of the body.
  5. Start to bring awareness back into the body and open your eyes slowly.
Hopefully, these tips will make your next trip abroad the best one yet. Now that you know how to overcome in-flight aches, pains and anxieties, there's no excuse not to book your next summer adventure. 

Lead Image Credit: bulletrain743 on Pixabay

Tips and information courtesy of Diffusion PR. 

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