Staying fit inflight – the low down

Make stressful, exhausting flights a thing of the past.

We are fortunate to live in an age where the other side of the world is easily accessible, thanks to the marvel of air travel. When compared with the threat of scurvy and mutiny our ancestors faced on long and uncomfortable sea voyages in years past, flying seems like a breeze in comparison. However, those who travel regularly know that keeping well and sickness-free when flying can require some careful thought and planning, particularly for longer flights.

Follow these simple strategies to optimise your health and arrive at your next destination fit and ready for action.

1. Stay hydrated

Drinking water regularly before, during and after your flight is essential for good inflight health. Prepare for your flight by sipping water regularly on the day and night prior to travel and avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and soft-drink while on board.  For an added boost, pack a small hydrating mist in carry-on luggage to keep your skin hydrated and feeling supple.

2.  Go easy on the food and drinks

Sometimes it’s easy to get a bit excited about the unlimited snacks and drinks that come with your ticket.  Remember, the journey is long and going heavy on food and drinks you don’t usually eat is likely to leave you uncomfortable, bloated and running to the tiny onboard toilet more regularly than you really want to. Pack some healthy snacks and avoid choosing heavy meal options where possible. Due to the dehydrating impact of cabin pressure, the effects of alcohol are increased; be sure to drink plenty of water and track the number of drinks you’re consuming to avoid making a goose of yourself and being placed on the airline’s no-go list.

3.  Move and stretch

Sitting immobile for long periods of time can result in muscle aches and cramping, decreased blood circulation, swollen feet or legs and in some extreme cases, the formation of blood clots, particularly in the lower body (known as Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT). Moving your legs every 3-4 minutes per hour of flight and getting out of your seat for a stretch and a stroll can help minimise the impact of flying on the body. If you’re in a higher risk category for DVT (family history, pregnancy or taking certain types of prescription medicine), consider packing a pair of compression stockings in your carry-on baggage and always chat to your GP before you fly about any added precautions that you may need to take.

4. Create a sleep kit

Maximising the amount of shut-eye you get on a flight not only makes the journey feel faster, you’ll arrive at your destination fresh and ready to go. A neck pillow, eye-mask and noise cancelling headphones or ear plugs will ensure your sleep time is optimised. Also watch your caffeine intake before and during the flight to avoid unwanted peaks in energy levels while you’re trying to get some rest.

5. Leave the stress behind

Without a doubt, flying can be a stressful endeavour. Even for the most seasoned of travellers, cancelled flights, long delays and slow boarding raises the blood pressure and can lead to heightened levels of anxiety. Come prepared with some de-stressing tools; have a meditation podcast or your favourite relaxing music pre-downloaded onto a phone or tablet, pack some ear plugs, bring a favourite book or grab an aromatic stress treatment to calm those jangling nerves. Virgin Australia has also teamed up with partner Smiling Minds to offer a series of guided mediations, which are accessible through the onboard  inflight entertainment system,

Words by Rebecca Walker - Published 8 January 2019
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