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Easy In-Flight Exercises for Long Haul Travelers

Every year approximately 900,000 Americans are affected by deep vein thrombosis (DVT) on planes, according to the CDC. Although DVT can be caused by a number of things, long haul air travelers pose a higher risk. Even if you aren’t at risk of DVT, sitting for a very long period of time in a cramped space can result in swollen feet and ankles, pain in your lower extremities, and general malaise. Flights that typically last longer than 8 houses pose the greatest risk. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to not only prevent DVT but also boost your overall health while traveling to a far-off destination. Apart from wearing loose-fitting clothes and staying hydrated, a few in-flight exercises will keep your blood flowing and reduce your risk of pain and discomfort significantly. 

Walk to get your blood pumping

Apart from the respiratory and gastrointestinal concerns many travelers have to contend with, DVT poses a real threat for long-haul travelers. While vaccines can prevent some travel-related illnesses, maintaining movement can help reduce the risk of DVT as well as general stiffness and discomfort. One of the simplest, and most obvious, ways to keep active during a flight is to walk around and stretch your legs. When you see the aisle is clear, get up and walk from one end to the plane to the other, or at least as far as you are allowed to go. While walking, shake out your arm and legs a bit as well to get your blood pumping properly. Although walking is not permitted during the ascent and descent of the plane or during turbulent weather, there should be ample opportunity to stretch your legs during the remainder of the flight.

Do high knees from the comfort of your seat

While walking is undoubtedly one of the best ways to boost your circulation, many beneficial exercises can be done from the comfort of your seat. High knees are not only a good way to get your blood flowing again but also to stretch out and regain some movability. When seated, lean forward somewhat and place your hands around one of your knees and carefully pull it up towards your chest. Try to hold the stretch for about 10 seconds before changing sides and do between five and ten repetitions on each side. It is completely natural to feel a slight stretch in your glutes. Stop stretching is you experience severe pain or discomfort, however.

Ankle circles and calf raises can prevent clots from forming

Apart from blood clots having a habit of forming in the lower extremities, the legs and feet are also most prone to cramping during long periods of inactivity. This is precisely why it is so important to move your legs at regular intervals. Ankle circles are a great way to improve your circulation and can easily be done while sitting down. Simply lift your foot off the floor and circle your ankle. Do ten full rotations both clockwise and anti-clockwise with both feet. Another highly-effective exercise to do is calf raises. Stand (or sit) with your feet about hip-distance apart and gently rise up on your toes. Remain in this position for a few seconds before lowering your heels down again. Aim to repeat this 10 to 20 times every few hours.

Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, the last thing you want to think about is falling ill or experiencing pain or severe discomfort. Thankfully, by engaging in just a few basic exercises you can boost your in0flight health and well-being significantly.