exercise is counter-productive on board aircraft because of the oxygen
deficiency. Therefore a special 'exercise in the air programme' has been
developed to deal with flying - which is after all as sedentary activity
done in an environment that makes unusual demands on the body.
Although the type
and requirements of exercise vary with age, condition and occupation,
for air travel there are two elements that need to be emphasised : to
increase the intake of oxygen and to improve circulation. As there is
a slight deficiency of oxygen on board because of cabin pressurisation,
passengers (particularly on long haul flights) benefit from exercises
that improve their ability to absorb oxygen
Exercise before and
during the flight can help reduce the risk of a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
but you should take note that other measures such as wearing flight socks
or taking low dose aspirin should also be considered.
The best form of exercise
to achieve a high oxygen intake is one that makes use of the major muscle
groups, such as jogging, running, squash, tennis, cycling and particularly
swimming. To have any significant effect on oxygen saturation the exercise
should be carried out three times a week for a period of 30 minutes. People
in sedentary occupations should build up over a longer period, some six
to eight weeks before a trip.
The other type of
exercise of interest to air travellers encourages circulation. Moderate
dynamic exercise, such as brisk walking, not only decreases the tendency
of the blood to clot but also exerts a protective influence on the circulatory
system. Such an effect can last for several hours even after only 30 minutes
In- flight Exercise
On board, because
of the limited space and lack of opportunity to walk, it is often best
to exercise in your seat. Moving your feet up and down to simulate walking
can increase the blood flow rate significantly.
There are four further
exercises that can be of help -
- Contract the buttocks
and abdominal muscles to stimulate circulation in the pelvis.
- Stretch your arms
and lift them up and down.
- Open and clench
- Rotate your ankle
joints in large circles, extending them fully.
devices are also available which are suitable for exercising on an aircraft.