Get your body moving without getting up from your seat! Stretch and work every muscle with these simple yet powerful airplane exercise routine!
A long flight can be not only uncomfortable but also tortuous for some of us with health problems. If you are taking flights often, your health conditions can even worsen, or you can find yourself with some new nasty things as prolonged-time sitting in a limited space affects the circulation of your blood and tenses your muscles… Yikes! Good news: even if you remain in your seat for most of the flight, there are simple “airplane workout” – a collection of full body stretches and airplane exercises – you can do to restore your blood circulation and to enjoy your next trip in comfort. We recommend that you do those airplane exercises every time when on a plane during the flight and as often as you deem necessary. Best thing: airplane stretches can mostly be done without getting out of your seat!
- “In-Seat” Airplane Exercises
- Neck Airplane Exercises
- Arms Airplane Workout
- Airplane Exercises For Upper Body
- Lower Body Airplane Workout
- “Get Out of Seat” Airplane Exercises
- DOWNLOAD Airplane Workout Checklist!
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“In-Seat” Airplane Exercises
You might be thinking: “But how can I workout on an airplane?! There is literally no space!” There is actually more space than you can imagine 🙂 But most of the exercises we list below can be performed without even a need to stand up from your airplane seat.
If any of the suggested airplane workouts, full-body stretches & exercises cause severe pain or weakness in any part of your body, stop right away and talk with your doctor upon arrival home.
Neck Airplane Exercises
Tilt your head down until your chin touches your chest. Hold this position for a few seconds, then bring your chin back up to normal position and repeat 8-10 times.
From the same starting position, tilt your head to the side toward one shoulder, leading with your ear. Hold for a few seconds, then return your head to normal position. Repeat 8-10 times.
Head Side-to-Side Turns
Look straight ahead, then turn your head to the right side, keeping your chin at the same level and leading with your nose. Hold for a few seconds, then get your head returned to a straight position and do the same turn to the left side. Repeat 8-10 times on each side.
You can relieve the stiffness of your neck and shoulders by making neck movements from left to right in a circle. It improves the circulation of the shoulders by moving them forward, up and back, making a circular movement.
Holding the rest of your body straight, push your chin forward, stretching your throat (imagine you are trying to push an imaginary button in front of you with your chin!). Hold for a few seconds, then slowly move your head back to a straight position and repeat 8-10 times. This will work even better if you stick out your tongue trying to touch your nose.
Neck Resistance Airplane Exercises
Put your left hand on the side of your head above your ear. Gently press your head against your hand while holding your head straight. Hold the position for 20-30 seconds. Do the same on the right side with your right hand. Repeat 5-6 times.
Finally, lean your head forward bending your neck. Place your hands behind the neck to exert slight pressure. Hold the position for 20-30 seconds. Straighten up and place a hand on your forehead. Bring your head forward while trying to resist the movement with your hand. Hold for a few seconds and release. Repeat 5-6 times.
Arms Airplane Workout
Make fists, move your writs in a circle in the direction of the inward. Do 10-15 circles, then switch direction and rotate wrists in an outward direction.
Straighten and extend your left arm in front of you, opening up your palm and bending it out into the “pharaoh” position. Use your right hand to grab your fingers from outside and gently push them towards you. You should feel both your wrist and the inner side of your elbow stretching. Hold it for 5-8 seconds, then switch hands. Stretch your right hand and grab it with your left hand. Repeat 5-8 times for each hand.
Straighten and stretch your left hand. Use your right hand to grab your elbow and push gently inwards towards you, while slightly resisting. You should feel both elbow and the upper back “wing” area stretching. Hold for 5-6 seconds. Switch hands and repeat. Do this airplane exercise for 5-8 times for each elbow.
Above The Head Shoulder Stretch
Fingers crossed behind the head, arms bent in alignment with the back, bring the shoulder blades together to create a slight tension in the upper back. Keep the position until the tension disappears (4 to 5 seconds), then relax. Repeat several times. This exercise is excellent if you have sore shoulders or upper back.
NOTE: This airplane exercise may not be possible if you have someone sitting in an airplane seat next to you – you won’t want to kick their head with your elbow, right? If you do have space – great! Otherwise, you may still do this stretch and other full body stretches by adding those to your out-of-seat routine. You can absolutely do it while standing!
Raise your shoulders straight up and move them forward in a circle. Do 10-15 circles. Lower your shoulder, relax for a few seconds, and repeat in the backward direction.
Airplane Exercises For Upper Body
The back, along with the neck, is one of the areas that can be most affected on long flights. Especially if you fall asleep in a bad position. That is why it is very important to stretch your back so that the stiffness and pressure that occurs when you sit for a long time in the same position is relieved.
Touching the Ceiling “Dance”
While sitting straight at the edge of your seat, stretch your arms up and try to touch the ceiling with both hands without standing. If you are actually touching the ceiling with your fingers, close the hands into fists or bend the hands into the “pharaoh” position and try touching up the ceiling with your palms – the goal is to get a good full-body stretch. Hold this position for 5-8 seconds.
Next (with both your hands still up) reach upwards with your right palm, relaxing the left side. Then reach up with your left palm, relaxing the right side. Repeat 10-15 times on each side. This should feel like a bit of a dancing movement, but both your sides will be stretching.
Behind the Back Elbow Grip
Begin this exercise by sitting at the edge of your airplane seat with back straight, shoulders relaxed and pressed down. Slowly squeeze your shoulder blades together, broadening the chest. Then bring the arms together behind the back and grip elbow to elbow. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds, feeling your chest stretching. Release to the starter position, relax for 5 seconds, then repeat again. Do these stretches for 5-6 times.
Combine this movement with abdominal exercises, exhaling all the air from your lungs and then, instead of inhaling, enter the stomach into the chest and hold the position for a few seconds before relaxing and inhaling. Repeat 10-20 times.
Hip Dance While Sitting
To do this airplane exercise sit closer to the edge of the airplane seat, straighten your back. Perform a set of moves with your pelvic area: tilting back and forth (alternately round and bend the lower back), from side to side. Then do circular movements with the body to the right and left. Repeat 4-8 times without pauses.
Lower Body Airplane Workout
Surely the ankles may be the part of the body that you move most, involuntarily, during the flight. But it is important to do so in a way that contributes to circulation.
Lift the feet and make circles alternating the ankles. First clockwise, and then counterclockwise. You can do batches of 15 or 20 seconds and several repetitions.
Another airplane exercise you can do while sitting is to stretch your calves. Place your toes on the floor, and raise your heels as high as you can, until you feel that your calves are stretching. You can hold the position for several seconds and repeat.
Next Place your heels on the floor, and raise your toes as high as you can until you feel that your calves are stretching. Hold the position for a few seconds, and repeat. Do 15-20 stretches for each toe and heel stretches.
Once seated with a straight back, lift your left knee to your chest, hold it with your hands and keep it up for a few seconds and then lower it. You should feel your “butt muscles” stretching. Next, do your right leg stretch. You can do 10 repetitions with each one.
With your right foot, “hug” the front surface of the left leg (bend your toes inward). With a stroking motion, massage the lower leg from the foot to the knee and vice versa. Do the same for the back surface of the lower leg, “hugging” it with the back of the foot (extend your toes outward). Repeat this warm-up in an airplane for each leg 3-4 times.
“Out of Seat” Airplane Exercises
Walking and full-body stretching is the simplest airplane exercise you can do, and it is very effective. It also helps you get distracted during the flight. So by all means, please do occasionally, get up and walk up and down the hall.
In the back area, there is usually more space, so it is a good place to do some of the “usual” exercises, full-body stretches or even yoga or tai-chi routines!
You’ll find that you don’t need much space to do your squats or airplane stretches, just enough to be able to stretch your arms up and around you.
We find the best space to at the very back of the plane behind the washrooms – the space flight attendants usually use to prepare food. We usually time our airplane workouts to when flight attendants have rolled out their food carts to the very front and are slowly making their way back. You won’t need much time for our airplane exercise routine – maybe 10-15 min at most. You may even be able to make your way back to your seat just in time to receive the food!
..So stand up and go!
And since you're there, make sure to be drinking something to improve hydration! Airplane air conditioning is literally drying you up! Ever thought of why you need so much skin cream after a flight?!
One of the best exercises on a long haul flight you can engage in is to try to catch some sleep.
While I'll be writing on the benefits of sleep soon, but in the meantime check out this awesome list of long flight essentials for recommendations on a sleep aid and other necessities that can make your trip more comfortable.
Hope This Airplane Full Body Stretching Routine Helps!
The muscle stiffness, muscle pain, and immobility is possibly the worst negative effect of traveling on long haul non-stop flight. I’ve even heard people complaining that a bad flight experience ruined their vacation memories completely! This is why performing simple airplane exercises such as these while on a plane can help you make your trip more enjoyable.
Do you have more tips on how to make long haul flights more enjoyable? Other airplane exercises and stretches you’d like to recommend? Share in comments or message us!
Alexandra, Alex & Cosmos
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How can I make my flight more enjoyable? ›
- Have Status With An Airline.
- Fly Direct Whenever Possible.
- Get the Best Seats:
- Credit Card Two For One Voucher.
- Know Your Rights As A Flyer.
- Bring Food on the Plane.
- Global Entry and TSA Precheck Are Your Friends.
- Book Flights in the Morning.
- Read a Novel. ...
- Take a sketch book. ...
- Listen to Music. ...
- Play Games with fellow passengers. ...
- Watch movies. ...
- Read a guide book. ...
- Get your immigration documents sorted before you land. ...
- Play cards.
Nervous flyers should take full advantage of in-flight entertainment, read a book or listen to music with noise-cancelling headphones to help drown out the ambient noise. Even a minor distraction can help you calm your nerves for at least a small portion of your flight.How do you keep calm on a bumpy flight? ›
- Listen to an interesting podcast.
- Listen to your favorite music playlist.
- Read an interesting book.
- Watch a movie or favorite tv series.
- Strike up a conversation with the person next to you.
- Close your eyes and picture a smooth landing at your destination.
Read a book, magazine, or newspaper.
Bring a book that you've been meaning to get to or grab a magazine or newspaper that will keep you entertained. You can also download a book, magazine, or newspaper to your smartphone, tablet, or an e-reader ahead of time so you're all set for the flight.
- Latch on to triggers that set you off. ...
- Step onto the airplane with knowledge. ...
- Anticipate your anxiety. ...
- Separate fear from danger. ...
- Recognize that common sense makes no sense. ...
- Smooth over things that go bump in the flight. ...
- Educate fellow fliers how to help you. ...
- Value each flight.
- Find New Friends Online and In-Person. Whether you're a solo traveler on a group tour or all on your own in a foreign place, find a companion if you're feeling lonely. ...
- Immerse Yourself in the Culture. ...
- Take Some Time With Things That Comfort You.
The four forces are lift, thrust, drag, and weight. As a Frisbee flies through the air, lift holds it up. You gave the Frisbee thrust with your arm. Drag from the air made the Frisbee slow down.How do you survive a 13 hour flight? ›
Invest some time in adding distracting material to your carry-on. Include books and magazines; make sure any movies, audiobooks or music are downloaded on your digital devices. And don't forget your own ear buds or headphones. If you're especially sensitive to noise, consider investing in the noise-canceling variety.How do I get rid of my plane belly? ›
Your best bet is water, a light pre-flight meal, and—if you know you're highly-affected during flights—Gas-Ex, which can help if your belly starts acting up, says Dr. Sam. Also make sure to go for a walk every now and then—either to the bathroom or just down the aisle.
What time of day is turbulence the worst? ›
If you take a flight late in the day, the ground has had more time to heat up, which can cause "bumpier air" and lead to turbulence onboard. In fact, there are more chances of there being a thunderstorm in the afternoon compared to the morning, which can make a rough flight even worse.What time of year is turbulence the worst? ›
Winter and summer are the most turbulent months to fly. During winter, there are strong winds and blizzards. During the peak of summer when it is very hot, convection turbulence occurs, especially when flying over cities and mountains during midday.Why you shouldn't be scared of turbulence? ›
Should you be scared of turbulence? The short answer is no, and rest assured that the pilots know how uncomfortable turbulence can make passengers feel. And know that no aircraft has ever crashed because of turbulence. "Turbulence has not caused an airplane to crash," Biddle said.How do I survive 24 hours of flying? ›
- Think Positive. The biggest thing for me is thinking positively. ...
- Remember: you get waited on! ...
- Wear comfortable clothing. ...
- Take a change of clothes. ...
- Pack your toiletry bag well. ...
- Plan before you go. ...
- Sleep when you can. ...
- Drink plenty of water.
- Go for regular walks around the cabin. ...
- Stretch your upper body. ...
- Squeeze your bum. ...
- Roll your neck. ...
- Do a full body roll down. ...
- Keep the blood flowing in your legs. ...
- With your hands clasped together, raise your arms slowly above your head.