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Useful airplane exercises for long flights

By June 18, 2020January 17th, 2023FinGlobal

Useful airplane exercises for long flights

June 18, 2020


If you don’t have effective airplane exercises up your sleeve, you could find yourself in severe discomfort on a long haul flight. Yup…the reality of airplane cramps is pretty unavoidable and most SA expats know all about it! Sitting on a plane for many hours at a time can be a gruelling experience mentally, but physically it can be just as hard. Especially if you are the type to cramp up or become physically uncomfortable. Sitting upright for a long time without moving can cause muscles to become stiff and tense, fluid might collect in your feet and your blood circulation is negatively impacted. This can lead to blood pooling in leg veins and a whole lot more!

Whether you are heading back to South Africa to visit loved ones or returning to your new home country, keeping comfortable on the flight is an important part of the trip. Do you know any exercises for long flights? The good news is that we do and we’re about to share some useful airplane workout tips with you now.

Airplane exercises for long flights

You’re sitting in the window seat; primly taking up just the allotted space you have been given. Next to you, is another passenger taking up more than his fair share of space, and there’s not much room to move about or shift from one side to the other. These are a few of the joys of flying economy class, aren’t they?! You’re in for a 9 hour flight and you’re already cramping up, before the plane even takes off. Now what? Being prepared for the discomforts of a long haul flight is important.  Below are a few tips on exercise before a long flight:

  • Ankle circles.

You don’t want to leave the plane with stiff swollen ankles, do you? Ankle circles can help to alleviate this problem. While sitting down, raise one leg at a time and move your foot in a circular motion from the ankle. First, do clockwise rotations and then counter-clockwise rotations. 10 rotations for each ankle every 2 hours should be quite helpful.

  • Knee lifts.

While in a seated position and with your knees bent, lift each leg up as high as you can go. You can do one leg for 10 reps and then switch to the next leg, or you can alternate knee lifts. 10 reps per leg is a good starting point. If you can, do this every 2 hours at a minimum.

  • Toe-heel foot pumps.

Place your heels firmly on the floor while in seated position and raise your toes upwards as high as you can. Then, reverse the movement by placing your toes firmly on the floor and raising your heels as high as you can. You can alternate toe and heel pumps, for at least 10 reps per foot.

  • The aisle strut.

When the flight is in full swing, chances are that people will settle in to chat or nap. Take the opportunity to walk up and down the length of the isle when things are quiet. Have good posture and walk it out. The more you get to stretch your legs like this, the better. If you feel that walking will be beneficial to you, try to book an aisle seat, so that you don’t disturb others by getting up and down.

  • Neck rolls.

The neck can take a lot of strain on a plane. It’s important to keep it supple and loosened up. While relaxing your shoulders, drop one ear down towards your shoulder and then roll your head from side to side. You can do this from both sides.

  • Shoulder rolls.

From a relaxed and seated position, lift your shoulders up and roll them in forward circular motion. Then, do the same thing, in reverse by rolling your shoulders backwards in circular motions. Do this 10 times per direction. You should do this exercise every 2 hours or so.

  • Top side twists.

Sit up straight and firm in your seat with both feet planted firmly on the ground. Place your arms on the arm rests and then twist your torso sideways to the left, hold for a few seconds, then return to the centre. Follow this with the same motion to the right. Do this 10 times in a row every time your back starts to feel sore or uncomfortable.

  • Stretch.

Don’t underestimate the value of stretching. You can stretch quite nicely in your seat by stretching your legs out and forward and your arms above your head. When you stretch, you release any possible pressure and tension on nerves within the neck, back, and shoulders. This keeps the blood flowing and helps to avoid any possible strain and stiffness when exiting the plane.

  • Arm extensions.

In a seated position, clasp your fingers together with palms facing your chest. Twist your palms outward, turning them around (with fingers still clasped) to face the seat in front of you. Stretch your arms outwards and feel the pull in your forearms.

FinGlobal: Financial emigration and tax specialists

It’s not just a long haul flight that you want to be comfortable on, is it? You also want to be comfortable with the financial decisions you make when choosing to live and work in another country. At FinGlobal, our focus is on ensuring that every South African expat we deal with, walks away feeling comfortable, satisfied and secure in the financial situation they find themselves in when emigrating. With over 10 years of experience in the field, we are well versed in financial emigration, tax emigration, and the process of accessing retirement annuity funds back in South Africa. We can even assist you with a tailor-made tax solution. All you have to do is ask! Get in touch with us. For your FREE and no obligation consultation and quote.

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