Plane Sailing: How to Stay Healthy on a Long-Haul Flight

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From snack tips to in-seat plane stretches, learn the tricks for staying healthy on long-haul flights.


With air travel back in full swing, the prospect of long-haul flights is an exciting but also daunting one. To help us navigate our reintroduction to air travel, fitness expert Andrea Marcellus shares her tips for staying healthy on a long-haul trip including surprising advice on snacks (no trail mix!) and tricks for sleeping comfortably upright.


Snacks

  • Two weeks before your trip, start keeping track of foods that make you feel lean and keep your digestion regular. Stick to these foods 24-48 hours before your flight.

  • On the flight, eat as cleanly as possible and avoid dried fruit, trail mix, and no-value starchy carbs the best you can. They are too calorie dense for when you are going to be sitting for a long time and can leave you feeling bloated. Also, avoid salty foods like chips or jerky. Long flights alone can cause you to retain water, so best not to add extra salt.

  • Consider bringing your own snacks like apples with nut butter in squeezable packets you can eat without the need for utensils. Also small bags of grain-free granolas you can pick at instead of chips.


Stretches

  • The key with any stretches is to move in and out of them rather than just hold a static stretch because your muscles are cold. Getting up and walking around for a few minutes before stretching will help.

  • Try a ’figure four hip stretch’: put an ankle across your opposite knee and simply pull your chest forward 4 counts and then release. Repeat 5-10 times to release your hips and lower back, then switch sides.

  • Or a ’modified camel pose’: sit forward on the seat, place your hands behind you, fingertips facing forward. Keeping your chin down, inhale and push down into the seat as you pull your chest to the ceiling for 4 counts. Release and repeat 5-10 times to release your chest and neck.


Sleep

  • Taking magnesium about an hour before sleeping time can be helpful (and help to keep you regular).

  • Put a bag under your feet to lift your knees to hip height, reducing back strain. Use the headrest flaps or a neck pillow to keep your neck in alignment. And definitely use a sleeping mask (or do what I do and wrap a sweatshirt or pashmina around your head to really create a great sleep bubble!)

The suitcase workout

Simply hold onto your raised (and locked) suitcase handle for balance and perform the following beginner moves three times:

  • Reverse lunges to strengthen the quads (15 reps on each leg)

  • Jumps out and in for a cardio burst (30-second intervals)

  • Calf raises to work the calf muscles (30 reps)

  • Narrow squats to tone and sculpt the booty and thighs (20 reps)

  • Leg lifts to burn out the glutes (20 reps on each leg)


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