a group of people sitting on a plane
People flying by plane. Interior of airplane with passengers sleeping on seats. Tired woman napping on uncomfortable seat on airplane. Commercial transportation by planes.

Being able to get anywhere in the World in a day is incredible, but getting off a long flight and feeling stiff, swollen and tired is not quite so good, especially when you’ve got exploring to do.

Getting out of your seat and going for little walks is always a good idea – and you absolutely should – but you’ll still end up spending quite a lot of time in your seat, counting the hours.

Without doing downward dog in the aisle or burpees in the galley – hey, go for it if you can – these simple but helpful exercises can help you maintain good posture and flexibility, while helping key circulation points to protect against DVT.

Your shoulders, back and butt will thank you, and you can do all of them from the comfort of your very own seat, without appearing too strange…

Ankle Rotations

Pick your feet up off the ground and rotate both of your ankles in the same direction at the same time, 5x one way and 5x the other way. Repeat the whole movement 5 times for maximum effect.

Calf Raises/Toe Raises

Start with your feet flat on ground whilst seated, raise your heels off the ground as far as you can until your just on your tip toes, hold for 3 seconds. Slowly lower your heels back to the ground so your feet are flat again. Then raise your toes off the ground, so just just your heels are left touching, feeling a slight stretch in your calf, hold again for 3 seconds and lower. Repeat 10 times.

Fast Feet

Sit up with good posture and lift your heels off the ground so you’re on the balls of your feet. For 10 seconds move your feet alternatively off the floor a couple of inches and back as fast as you can – like running small steps on the spot. Rest for 5-10 seconds and repeat 10 times.

Shoulder Rotations

Sitting up straight with good back posture, keeping your arms relaxed, roll your shoulders forwards 5x and then backwards 5x. Repeat both directions 5 times while really trying to maximise the size of the circles you’re making.

Neck Rolls

Drop your chin to your chest so you feel a slight stretch down the back of your neck, keep your shoulders relaxed. Slowly roll your neck to the right side, so your right ear is over your right shoulder, keeping your chin down the whole time. Roll back to centre and repeat on the left side. Repeat 10 times.

a row of seats in a planeKnee Hugs

Make sure the seatbelt sign is switched off for this one as it will be easier. Sitting up in your seat, lift one leg up and hug your knee to your chest, holding the position for 5 seconds. Gently lower and do the same with the other leg. Repeat both legs 5 times.

Butt Clenches

Squeeze your glutes (bum) as tight as you can and hold for 5 seconds, then release. Repeat 10 times. You should feel a lift off from your seat as you clench, and sinking back down as you release.

Ceiling Reach

Keeping your bum in your seat and good posture, stretch your arms and fingers up as high as they will reach, feeling like someone is pulling your upper body straight up from your fingertips. Hold for 3 seconds then release. Repeat 10 times, and try not to worry about what the people behind you are thinking.

Core Rotation

Sitting up, but keeping your bum fully in the seat, rotate using your core to your left and touch the back of the seat with your right hand. Then rotate to your right and touch the back of the seat with your left hand. Repeat this 10 times, trying to feel a little extra rotation as you go.

Hip Opener/Glute Stretch

Whilst sitting, keep your left foot flat on the floor and put your right ankle onto your left knee. Place your hand on your right knee and keeping both butt cheeks on the seat, gently lean forward, feeling a nice stretch in your glute. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times on each leg, alternating each time.

How do you stay active on the plane?

Laura Burns is a certified trainer and accomplished athlete.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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