Fit and Fly
I’m doing a lot of air travel this week, and as usual, it’s sapping my will to live. If you’re anything like me, long days of travel and flight leave you feeling dehydrated, fuzzy, headachey, even gassy or bloated, and certainly tired – despite barely moving all day. And it’s understandable: you’re probably eating crappy (and overpriced) airport food, not drinking enough water, and go hours at a time without moving during flights. Hey, that might not too too far off from an average day for many of us, but it’s an unhealthy schedule that seems forced on us when we fly. And, if you’re like me, you’re also worrying that every minute spent trussed up, unmoving in an uncomfortable airplane seat is one minute closer to having a blood clot explode in your leg – or at least affront your “always be moving” sensibilities.
I can’t say that I’ve perfected the art of feeling well during and after air travel, but I can definitely offer some hints that will lessen your chances of spending the next day in a jet-lag and constipation-induced stupor. And if you can apply these to your real, not air-borne days as well, all the better.
– Drink tons of water. Like, a lot. Flying dehydrates you more than you think, so if you normally sip on a couple glasses of water throughout the day with no problem, think about tripling that intake. Drink too much water, because it will end up being just enough. And yes I know this usually means spending $20 on Dasani, but it’s worth it – unless you bring a long a water bottle with built in filter, than you can fill up anywhere for free.
– If you follow step one, you’ll be making use of that glorious airplane bathroom. Awesome, right? But it will make you get up a few times during your flight which is key to keep from getting stiff, achy, and exhausted from lack of movement. Pick an aisle seat if you can, but don’t feel bad about asking the person next to you to move so you can get up – you’re helping them move around too and it’s for their own damn good! When you’re up, shake around, move your limbs, get the blood flowing. It’s amazing how much that can refresh you.
– Bring snacks. No one says you HAVE to eat a pretzel with mustard from the terminal’s Auntie Anne’s. Pack fruit that doesn’t bruise easily – beef jerky, nuts and seeds, or even some kind of low sugar energy bar. This will save you money and stomach-ache later.
– Don’t watch the stupid in-flight movie. It’s stupid, seriously. You’re only watching it because you’re on a plane. Turn it off, pull out your trusty sleep mask (these are cheap so buy one somewhere) and get some shut eye if you can. If you’re going to spend a few hours not moving, you may as well be resting your body, especially if it’s an early morning or late night flight.
– Be smart about your day before and day after travel plans. Yes, we’ve all flown home on New Year’s Day after being up all night drinking and doing, you know, stuff we’re not gonna repeat here. But because flying is generally horrible and lowers your immune system, you’re that much more likely to get sick and stay sick longer if you treat your body poorly before or after you fly. Plan your life so that you get a solid sleep and a decent meal before you go, and you take it easy the day after you arrive at your destination. There’s no point going somewhere fun if you spend most of it ill.
I could keep going, but for once my flight isn’t delayed, so it’s time to fasten my seatbelt and keep my tray tightly stowed. Best of luck with all your travels and did I forget to mention DRINK water? Oh, and a couple pushups in the terminal while you’re waiting for the plane wouldn’t hurt either.