October 18, 2013

Inflight Exercises – How to Feel Good When You Get There

Every traveler knows long plane rides are physically demanding. Here’s a simple isometric routine you can do right in your seat.

Envision a slow jog through your favorite park. Using simple, rhythmic movements, alternately raise your heels as high as possible and rock slowly forward and back.

Next, imagine that same jog, but with your elbows crazy-glued to your legs. With elbows pressed on your knees, alternately raise the heel and toe of each foot off the floor.

Step three: roll your shoulders forward and back in large circles. Next, exercise your neck. Turn your slowly head to look over each shoulder several times. Then work it slowly forward and back.

Lay your arms along your thighs, palms down. Turn your hands over, spread your fingers, then make a fist. Relax and return to the original position. Then tighten your stomach muscles, bend slightly forward and lift your toes. Reverse the process.

Roll each foot in large circles to the fullest extent of your ankle’s flexibility. And finally, clasp your hands behind your neck and alternately and slowly raise each knee to touch the opposite elbow.

Repeat this routine every few hours during a long flight, and you’ll arrive with spring in your step, bounce in your back, and color in your cheeks, both upper and lower.

One final caution: it’s wise to let your seatmate know what you’re doing, before you get too far along in your exercise routine.

Here are some more exercises you can do during flights to help avoid stiffness, tenseness, headaches, and muscle aches:

  • Cross one leg over the other. Rotate your elevated foot in circular motions. Reverse directions, then reverse feet crossed.
  • Sit with toes on the floor and heels slightly raised, back straight and shoulders back. Lower one heel, then the other. Repeat.
  • Sit with back straight and shoulders back. Rotate head in circular motion. Move head side to side. Touch chin on chest and hold. Flex chin. Repeat.
  • Reach high with one arm, then the other. Lower arms and repeat.
  • Rotate shoulders in circles.
  • Stretch arms in front of you. Flex wrists. Bend elbows to touch shoulders with fingers. Bring elbows straight up, then back. Repeat.
  • Bend elbows, point palms outward. Stretch fingers open, then closed. Clench fists and hold. Press palms together in front of chest and hold. Hook fingers and pull arms apart. Repeat.
  • Lift one knee as far to your chest as possible (or as far as seating permits), then the other. Stretch legs as far out as possible. Repeat.
  • Clasp arms at elbows. Turn to one side 3 times, then the other. Repeat.
  • Sit up straight, draw in stomach and clasp arms in front of you. Drop torso forward and stretch arms to floor. Repeat.
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