Exercises for Long Plane Rides

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Spending extended periods of time sitting on a plane can affect your health. According to Qantas airline's website page "Your Health Inflight," your blood circulation can be affected and your muscles may tense up. Water retention to your legs can lead to swollen feet, and prolonged immobility, a risk factor for blood clots and deep vein thrombosis. There are exercises you can do to improve your blood circulation and relieve the symptoms of immobility. Do these exercises regularly throughout the flight, as often as you want.

Neck and Shoulder Exercises

Relieve the stiffness on your neck and shoulders by rolling your neck from left to right in a circle followed by a slight stretch by bending your neck from side to side. Do shoulder rolls to increase blood circulation by hunching your shoulders forward, upward and backward in a circular motion. Finally bend your head forward by bending your neck. Place your hands behind your neck to provide slight pressure. Hold for 30 seconds. Straighten up and place one hand on your forehead. Bring your head forward while resisting the movement with your hand. Hold for few seconds and relieve. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

Back and Abdominal Exercises

Stretch your back to relieve pressure and muscle stiffness formed during the immobility. Bring your upper body down until your chest touches your thighs. Hold for a few seconds and slowly return up. Repeat 20 to 30 times. To work your abdominal muscles do suctions by exhaling all air out from your lung then, instead of inhaling, pull your stomach to your rib cage and hold for a few seconds before relaxing and inhaling. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

Knee Exercises

Do knee lifts to improve blood circulation back to your heart from your legs. While seated, lift your left knee by contracting your thigh muscles, hold for few seconds and lower. Do the move 20 to 30 times and then repeat with your right knee. Do a stretch exercise by clasping your right knee with your hands and hug it against your chest. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat with the other leg. Repeat 10 times with both legs.

Ankle Exercises

Ankle rolls are easy to do while seated. Lift both feet from the floor and draw circles with your toes, going clockwise with one foot and counterclockwise with the other. After 15 seconds, reverse directions for another 15 seconds. Repeat as often as you like. Do a lower leg stretch by placing your toes to the floor and thrusting your heels upward as high as possible until you feel the stretch. Hold for few seconds and then release. Repeat 20 times; do this as often as you can. These exercises will help keep your blood circulating and prevent blood clots forming.


Get up and walk up and down the aisle occasionally. If there's room at the back of the plane to stretch without disturbing other passengers, stretch your whole body by getting up on your tiptoes and extending your arms as high as you can. Stretch your back and legs by bending your waist and touching your toes with your hands. You can also do knee raises while standing, by grasping your knee and pulling it toward your chest. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with your other leg.