S itting in a metal tube some thirty thousand feet in the air, breathing in recirculated air and eating processed food is not the healthiest of activities! In this article we give 14 tips to help keep you in better shape when flying long-haul and to also reduce your risk of falling ill during travel.
1. Before you fly, try to get some outdoor exercise and a good night's sleep. Go for a walk to get some fresh air and sunshine (weather permitting). Then before bed put a drop of lavender oil on your temple which may help you relax.
2. In the hours before the flight keep calm and relaxed. Get to the airport in good time and try to remain calm during the check-in and security procedures. Try to breathe deeply and relax.
If flying long-haul, be one of the last people to board in order to minimise the time you actually spend on the aircraft.
3. Once on board, keep hydrated as the air inside a plane cabin is very dry with humidity levels under 20%. Try to drink water regularly during the flight. Avoid any alcohol, carbonated drinks (sodas) and coffee - these will only dehydrate you and also create an acidic environment in your body which will make you more prone to viruses.
4. Try an alkalising drink such as green tea or various herbal teas - consider bringing your own tea bags on board. Fennel tea and peppermint tea are good for digestion; chamomile tea will help you relax. Ask your flight attendant for some hot water. Be aware that some countries have strict import regulations so it may not be possible to bring (unused) tea bags through customs.
5. Eat lightly on board and avoid any sugary and starchy foods. If you are not keen on processed airline meals (which often contain additives and preservatives) then consider bringing your own food. Alternatively, eat a light meal on the ground before the flight - avoid junk food or any foods that give you gas (eg - lentils, beans, corn, cabbage, onions) - as in the air bodily gases expand by a third and the digestion process slows down.
6. Consider fasting during the flight. It is thought that not eating on board can override your natural circadian body clock (by delaying sleep) and this can help you beat jet lag at your destination. In addition, by not having to digest a meal, the body's immune system remains more active. We know a few regular business travellers who swear by fasting on long-haul flights.
7. Wear loose fitting clothing made from natural fibres. Take off shoes on longer flights as ankles normally swell up a little.
8. Most airline in-flight magazines have a range of exercises to follow which can help your blood circulation. Exercising calf muscles is especially good. Try not to cross your legs. You may also choose to wear special flight socks to further reduce your chance of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) and blood clots.
9. During the flight walk up and down the aisle at least once every hour if you can - getting an aisle seat will make this more convenient.
10. Keep your hands and fingernails clean by washing regularly with soap and water. Be aware that bugs and bacteria will be present on many surfaces in an aircraft where people come into regular contact with - most obviously in the toilet and on toilet door handles - but also possibly on seats, armrests, seat trays, in-flight magazines etc. Use a tissue to open door handles after using the toilet. Try to avoid unwashed hand contact with your mouth, nose and eyes.
11. Keep your face moisturised - you can use something like coconut oil or jojoba oil; women could consider using a high quality natural day cream or night cream. Liquids are allowed on board if in containers less than 100ml.
12. If you suffer from motion sickness try chewing on some raw ginger - but once again, do dispose of it if you are arriving in a country with strict customs laws.
13. Flying will give you exposure to higher levels of radiation than normal. The effects of solar radiation can be reduced slightly by flying at night. A more controversial issue is the use of body scanner machines at the airport which some commentators and experts regard as unsafe. If you are concerned, consider your legal right in some countries to opt-out and get a manual pat-down search - this is possible in the US but not in the UK or Australia. Finally, the long-term health effects of in-flight WiFi are not well known at this point.
14. The key to staying healthy throughout your trip is to support your immune system with a healthy diet, exercise and high quality supplementation. Here at AirTravelGenius we try to eat healthily and use a combination of supplements for travel (a multi-supplement+fish oil+anti viral) which for us has helped keep colds at bay on long-haul flights.
Note: Article is for information purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or instruction. Always consult your doctor or a qualified health professional on any health matters.