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inflight exercises


Are you planning a trip, locally or abroad, to visit children, grandchildren or even great grandchildren?  Consider doing these inflight exercises to aid comfort during and after a flight.

When travelling on an aeroplane, you can be seated and inactive for a relatively long period of time. If you are travelling a fair distance, you might be crossing several time zones, and this could cause a disruption to your body’s “biological clock”.

Several things can happen, while you are sitting upright and inactive for a long period of time:
• The blood vessels in your legs can be compressed, making it more difficult for the blood to get back to your heart;
• You could feel fatigued because your muscles have tensed
• Gravity can result in excess fluid collecting in your feet, resulting in swollen feet
• Research shows that prolonged immobility may be a risk factor in the formation of blood clots in the legs, deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Particular medications and medical conditions may increase the risk of formation of blood clots if associated with prolonged immobility. Long-haul flights can be a risk factor in susceptible people.

Firstly, if you have any concerns about your health or flying, do seek medical advice before travelling. Secondly, compression stockings do assist in the prevention of swelling of ankles and feet, so we suggest that you speak to your doctor about this.

Thirdly, consider doing exercises while inflight, and walk up and down the aisle as often as possible, without causing any inconvenience to flight staff or other passengers.

The following inflight exercises have been compiled by the SA Seniors Fitness Association and will aid comfort during and after a flight. The exercises have been designed to increase the body’s blood circulation and to keep muscles moving. However, a word of caution: if any of the exercises cause discomfort or pain, please do not perform them.

Your onboard exercises

(Can also be used for frail seniors or as a cool down)

• Repeat each move at least 4 times or more and as often as possible during flight
• Breathe in deeply through the nose lifting the body up, out through the mouth. Drop body down and relax.

Leg wobble
Wobble both legs in and out as fast as possible, like jelly. Do plenty & frequently.

Foot stamp
Stamp feet alternately as if you were running very fast. Do plenty & frequently.

Toe wiggle
Wiggle toes up and down as if you were playing the piano. (Plenty).

Foot flex
Resting on the heels, lift toes up as high as possible, relax, lift heels up high, relax.

Alternate foot flex
Lift right heel and left toes simultaneously up high, relax, and change over.

Foot roll
From the ankle, roll feet outwards then inwards.

Foot push
Push feet together forward/backward on floor (without actually moving). Alt push.

Fan feet
Heels together – push/fan toes outwards, recover, toes tog push/fan heels outwards.

Leg tense
Stretch right leg forward, tense & flex foot up/down relax. Stretch left leg. Then together.

Knee/toe lift
Lift right knee and toes up – (hold for 4 counts) replace. Lift left knee & toes up.

Knee press
Press knees together (hold for 4 counts), relax, pull apart (x4), relax and repeat.

Ankle press
Cross ankles just off floor and press together, hold, relax, change over.

Back scratch
Scratch the lower back sideways (wiggle) against the seat, then upper back.

Butt squeeze
Squeeze bottom – hold (4 counts), relax, squeeze right side, then left side.

Tummy tuck
Suck tummy inwards – hold – release – repeat.

Rib extension
Hold knees, and try to push your rib carriage to the right, release, push left and release.

Cat stretch
Lean forward, arch back – release – contract tummy and round back.

Shoulder lifts
Lift both shoulders to ears, and drop. Lift right then left alternately.

Shoulder rolls
Roll shoulders forwards (x2), then backward (x2).

Shoulder twist
Hands on knees, slide right hand far over right knee and place chin on right shoulder, repeat left.

Spinal twist
Hold right arm rest with both hands and twist spine by looking backwards between the seats, relax and then repeat to the left. Alternate: hold right hip with left hand or both hands if possible and twist right looking backwards. Repeat to the left.

Hand press/pull
Press hands together ‘pray’ or clasp – relax – hook fingers and pull ‘apart’.

Long arm stretch
Interlace fingers, stretch forward to knees, relax, turn palms outwards and stretch again to the knees. Reach forward and touch the top of the seat in front right and left and then together. Reach up to ceiling right and left, and then together.

Body lift
Place palms on the seat next to your thighs or slightly under your thighs, then gently lift body upwards without actually lifting off the seat, hold for two seconds and release.

Shoulder blade touch
Touch shoulder blades with right hand over right shoulder, pull elbow backwards, release, then left. Cross right hand to left shoulder and push elbow, change over.

Head tilt
Tilt head from side to side (right ear to right shoulder – left ear to left shoulder).

Head down/up
Hang head forward, chin on chest – lift slightly looking up at ceiling.

Body tense
Close your eyes and from the toes upwards, tense/squeeze your entire body, hold for at least six counts then release slowly. Repeat often.

Exercises courtesy of SA Seniors Fitness Association.
Click here for further information and contact details

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