The importance of In flight exercises.
It is a fact that airlines are now able to fly longer distances due to new technology and it is not uncommon to be in the air for more than 18 hours. This can increase the risk of developing blood clots or Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) which could be potentially life threatening. In fact more and more cases are being reported of DVT which can be attributed to long flights.
The air in the airplane is very dry and this can cause dehydration which could lead to the blood to thicken and blood clots in the legs can form. If the clot breaks free and lodges in the lung it could cause sudden death. Cramped seats are not helping and DVT has been dubbed “Economy Class Syndrome”.
Which leads me to the importance of “In Flight Exercises”.
There are many in flight exercises that you could do while staying seated
– Ankle turns: Lift your feet off the floor and move your toes in a circle, one foot moving clockwise and the other foot moving counterclockwise. Change direction and repeat.
– Foot lifts: Place your heels on the floor and bring your toes up as high as you can. Then put both feet back flat on the floor. Then pull your heels up while keeping the balls of your feet on the floor.
– Knee lifts: While keeping your knee bent, raise your leg while tensing your thigh muscle. Repeat 20 to 30 times, alternating legs.
– Shoulder rolls: Raise your shoulders and then move them forward, downward and then backward in a smooth circular movement.
– Arm bends: Start with your elbows on the armrests and your hands pointed forward so that your lower and upper arms make a 90-degree angle. Take turns moving your left and then your right hand toward your chest and back, and continue for 30 seconds.
– Knee to chest: Bend slightly forward. Fold your hands together around your left knee and pull it toward your chest. Hold this position for 15 seconds and let your knee drop slowly. Change legs and repeat.
– Forward bends: Place both feet on the floor and pull your abdomen in. Bend slowly forward and ”walk” your fingers along your shins to your ankles. Hold for 15 seconds and sit up slowly.
– Upper-body stretch: Stretch both arms over your head. With your right hand, grab your left wrist and pull it slowly to the right. Hold for 15 seconds and change arms.
– Shoulder stretch: With your right hand, grab your left elbow and pull your outstretched left arm slowly toward your right shoulder. Hold for 15 seconds and change arms.
– Neck roll: Relax your shoulders, let your head drop to your right shoulder and roll your head slowly to the front and then to your left side. Repeat five times.
On a recent flight to Hong Kong I saw compression stockings for sale at the Duty-Free Area and was tempted to buy a pair. After two very long and difficult flights, I was upset that I didn`t buy them. They could be a life saver especially if you are at risk to develop DVT.
Other tips – In flight Exercises:
- Try to walk around the cabin every 15 to 30 minutes especially if your flight is longer than 3 hours;
- Sleep for short periods only;
- Limit alcohol and caffeine. They are known for causing dehydration;
- Drink plenty of fluids – water and juice;
- Walk briskly through the airport during layovers.
If you are at risk or worried about an upcoming long flight, consult with your physician.