Simple exercises for your next long-haul flight

Simple exercises for your next long-haul flight

Unless you’re splurging for first class, long-haul flights can be a less than pleasurable experience, leaving you feeling stiff and sore hours after the plane has landed. Luckily, there are simple movements you can do to minimise discomfort and boost circulation during a flight. For times when a downward dog or set of burpees might not be the most practical activity, here are five flight-friendly exercises from Jennifer Smallridge, Accredited Exercise Physiologist, to help you arrive at your destination with ease.


Ankle alphabets

These have the added benefit of improving circulation while you fly. Imagine that there’s a pen between your first and second toe, drawing big letters. You could spell your name, your destination, anything to get that joint moving!


Shoulder rolls

Shoulders need love too, especially if you’re prone to falling asleep with your head in awkward positions. Slide your shoulders up, back and around to loosen up your neck muscles and reduce tension.


Ankle pumps

These can be done whilst sitting or standing. Rise up on your tiptoes, lower down, and then lift up your toes (hold on for balance if you’re standing for this one). This can also help to prevent fluid buildup in the feet and ankles.


Side bends

If you get a chance to stand up and move around, try adding a side bend. Place your arms overhead like a morning stretch and gently bend from side to side, feeling the space between your ribs and your hips gently lengthening.


Seated twists

If you’re friendly with the seat next to you, hold on to the armrest to help turn your upper body to the side whilst you’re sitting down. Breathe deeply and enjoy the stretch.


About the author

Jennifer Smallridge is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, writer and academic lecturer with 10 years of clinical experience. She particularly loves helping people to understand the “why” behind exercise. She has a special interest in pain and fatigue, and was a finalist for ESSA’s Exercise Physiologist of the Year in 2018. Her favourite type of exercise is dancing and walking her dog Barney.

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