There’s nothing quite like that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling you get before a big overseas trip. It’s the closest you can get to that ‘night before Christmas’ excitement as an adult. There’s just one thing that kills the vibe — the fact that you have to actually get there first. Let’s be honest, nobody actually enjoys flying — especially when it’s long-haul. Hello, cramped legs and stiff back.
To get the inside word on the best way to avoid walking like a pensioner post-flight, we spoke to KAYAK Vice President and frequent flyer Debbie Soo. Not only will they reduce your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, they’ll ensure you look as fresh as Beyonce when you arrive.
Oh, and don’t worry — they’re subtle enough that you won’t look like a weirdo doing them.
The 3 best exercises 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 help 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.
The 3 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— you don’t want 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: In your 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.
The 3 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.