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The best mile high exercises to help you survive a long-haul flight

September 27, 2016 Online Travel Agents No Comments Print Print Email Email

With their passion for travel, Aussies heading to destinations in Europe and America often face spending over ten hours on a plane. At KAYAK.com.au, we aim to not only make planning and managing travel easier; but also to provide hacks to make the travel experience as smooth and easy as possible,” comments Debby Soo, Vice President, APAC.


“As a frequent traveller, I have summed up my top tried-and-tested in-flight exercises for long-haul flights. These are passenger friendly and will allow Aussie travellers to arrive at their destination feeling rested and ready to hit the ground running.”

Debby’s top in-flight exercise tips:

Best positions to combat cramps and stiffness

Seated neck roll: This is a great exercise to ease stiffness in the neck after a nap. Simply sit upright and drop an ear to one shoulder. Once relaxed, gradually roll the neck to the front and then to the opposite side. Try to hold each position for five seconds to help stretch out the neck. Continue the movement five times to really relieve the pressure.

Seated forward flex: This is a good one to keep in mind, as it helps to stretch out the back – allowing you to travel in comfort. Plant both feet firmly on the floor and hold the stomach in. Lean forward and gently walk your hands down your leg to reach the ankles (or as far as you can reach). Hold this position for 15 seconds, then gently roll back up. Once completed, sit back up and repeat.

Seated knee to chest: To do this exercise, bend slightly forward, lift one leg into the chest and clasp the knee. Once finished, slowly let go of the knee and change legs. This is a great movement to release the legs and it can be continuously performed throughout the duration of the flight. Try to hold each stretch for 15 seconds.

Best exercises to avoid restlessness

Aisle walks: Take a stroll throughout the cabin every 15 to 30 minutes, especially on flights clocking three hours or more. Make sure you go before or after food service – to ensure not to get stuck behind the food trolley.

Seated upper body stretch: To stretch the upper body, extend both arms above the head and with one hand, grab the opposite wrist and pull it slowly until you feel a gentle stretch down that side of your torso. Alternate this stretch side-to-side, so you don’t arrive feeling lopsided and uneven.

Seated spinal twist: Possibly one of my favourite exercises. In the chair, rotate to face the window side of the plane furthest away and grab the armrest with both hands. This exercise will stretch out the back and spine. Rotate the torso to the opposite side and hold the same position.

Best exercises to help with circulation

Seated ankle revolver: While sitting, lift both feet into the air at a 45 degree angle. Rotate the feet in a circular motion alternating between clockwise and anticlockwise. Repeat this exercise as many times as you can comfortably –  it’s harder than it sounds.

Seated ballerina: A simple exercise that requires minimum effort. Place both feet together on the floor, with heels firmly on the ground. Stretch the toes up into the air, then place them back on the floor and lift the heels up. To really get the blood pumping into your legs, repeat this exercise about five times.

Seated ankle turns: Lift both feet off the floor and start drawing circles with the toes. Start by moving the feet clockwise and switch to anticlockwise after a few rotations. This movement is best performed if done for 15 seconds and can be repeated as desired.

Other tips to maintain your health and wellbeing on a flight

Drink plenty of water: Always keep hydrated throughout the flight. Don’t be shy to ask the flight attendant for a water bottle, as this will either be part of the beverage service or available for purchase during the flight. Keeping hydrated will reduce fatigue and lower the risk of headaches, nausea and emotional instability.

Set an alarm and walk around: Sleep for short amounts of time, preferably 30 minutes each period to ensure you leave enough time to walk around the cabin and perform circulation exercises. Another tip is to set an alarm for an hour before landing, this will allow you to wake up, rehydrate and be ready to go when it is time to disembark. Be mindful of other passengers and set the alarm to a low tone or vibration – no one likes a selfish traveller.

Eat during meal service: Eating meals at the time of service will help to avoid stomach rumbles and also re-sync travellers meal times to the planned destination’s local time.  Most importantly, don’t forget to check out the in-flight menu prior to the journey and what times during the flight that meals will be  served.

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