Travelling Abroad? Stay Fit on the Plane

Following new studies last year, we all know that sitting down too much can be really hazardous to our health. That’s why many of us will get up from our desks whenever possible at work, even if it’s just to go to the bathroom or make a brew.

It’s why we take the stairs instead of the lift, and why we put in the time and effort to come to the gym before or after work.

But when you’re on a plane, getting to the gym is impossible, and there aren’t exactly many places to walk to. So how do you combat the dangers of sitting for too long?

Well, if you’ve got a flight to catch this year, we’ve put together a few simple exercises you can follow to keep your blood flowing and stay healthy, ready for your holiday. They’re also ideal for preventing conditions like deep vein thrombosis too!

Sat in your seat

As you’ll be sat for most of the flight, these exercises should help provide you with full body movement from your chair:

Neck roll

Starting at the top of your body, take the time to slowly rotate your head from left to right, looking all the way across to either side of the aircraft. Then, make sure you tilt your head slowly all the way backwards, looking up at the ceiling, and back down to the floor again.

Shoulder roll

Relax your shoulders completely, and then shrug them up towards your neck. Roll them backwards and down, then forwards and back up again. Repeat 5 times in one direction, 5 times in the opposite.

Seated twist

With your back upright and straight, feet flat on the ground and knees pointing forward, turn in your seat from the waist, moving your entire upper body and grabbing the armrest at one side with both hands, and holding for a few seconds. Using the same movement, turn to the opposite arm, and repeat 5 times.

Ab crunch 

Work your core muscles by bending forward as if you were looking for a pen on the floor. Place your hands on your shins, and run your hands down to your feet as far as you can go. Return to your seated position slowly.

Knees to chest

If you have the space, keep one foot flat on the ground whilst pulling your other knee up to your chest in a hugging motion. Hold this position for a few seconds, lower your leg, and pull up the opposite knee. Repeat on each side for 5-to-10 reps.

Leg raises

Lift your foot just an inch off the floor, keeping your knee bent, and gently extend your leg up and outwards into the available space in front of you, tensing your thigh muscles as you do so. Control the drop down, and repeat 20 times, before switching legs.

Foot lift 

With your feet flat on the ground, rock them backwards onto your heels, lifting your toes up from the ground. Drop them back down and rock forward onto your toes, lifting your heels up. Repeat this heel to toe motion for 20-to-30 repetitions.

Ankle rotations 

Finally, lift and stretch your legs in front of you to give you some space to perform ankle rotations clockwise and then counter clockwise. If you have a small stress ball, you can always place this under your foot, and roll it around the space in front of you too.

Waiting for the toilet

Standing up to go to the loo gives you the perfect chance to stretch your legs. Even if you don’t need the toilet, on long haul flights try and get up at least once every hour or so. Don’t be afraid to just walk down the aisle and back again.

Whilst you’re in the queue, try:

Foot lifts

The same exercise as while you were seated, this time you can really raise up onto your toes (a bit like a ballerina) and give your calf muscles a good stretch.

Toe touches

Another great opportunity to work your abs, let your arms drop in front of you down to your knees, and slowly bend over, seeing if you can touch your toes. Return to an upright position slowly.

Quad stretches

Grab onto a head rest next to you, and bend your leg backwards, grabbing onto your ankle and pulling your heel tight into your bum to perform a quad stretch. Hold for a few seconds, and repeat on the opposite leg.

Lunges (Hip Flexor)

If you really need a good stretch and are not easily embarrassed, why not lunge down the aisle on the way to the toilet? If you hold each lunge for a couple of seconds, you’ll be working your hip flexors too.

Grabbing your bag

Reaching up to grab a bag from the overhead locker offers the perfect opportunity to stretch your upper body, with less constraints compared to when you’re sat in your seat:

Shoulder stretch

Reach your left hand up to the ceiling, bend at the elbow and drop it down behind your head. Grab the elbow with your right hand, and pull your arm down in between your shoulder blades, stretching them together. Repeat with the opposite arm. You can also stretch your arms across your chest too.

Over head stretch 

Push both hands up to the locker or ceiling, as far as you can stretch, and then gently bend your body over to one side, and then the other, keeping your back straight. This will help work your obliques as well.

Opening shoulders 

Face the front of the plane and place your left hand on the back of seat, with your arm outstretched. Twist and angle your body to the right, opening up your left shoulder. Repeat on the opposite side.

Back bend

Place your hands onto the bottom of your back, or clasp hands behind your head if you want a greater range of motion. Slowly bend your body backwards, looking towards the ceiling, until your feel the stretch pull and you notice your breathing change. Return to an upright position slowly, and repeat.

Need more help or demonstrations? 

If you need any extra guidance, just ask one of our trainers in the gym about plane exercises before you go on holiday, and they’ll be more than happy to help.

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