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Aviation Hydration: Staying Properly Hydrated During Long Flights

As flight attendants, we spend many hours aboard aircraft where the climate can be very dry.

Proper hydration is essential for performance as well as overall health and well-being. However, staying hydrated during long flights takes intentional effort. Here are some tips for maximizing aviation hydration.


Drink Water Consistently

Make a point to drink water regularly throughout flights, even if you don't feel thirsty. Dehydration creeps up easily in low humidity cabins. Carry a refillable water bottle and take small sips every 30 minutes. This replaces the normal fluid lost through sweating and breathing (Sanders et al., 2017).

Limit Caffeinated Beverages

While coffee and tea offer energy, caffeine acts as a diuretic that removes more fluid from the body than it provides. Limit caffeinated drinks to one per flight and make the rest water to avoid dehydration symptoms like headaches (Grandjean et al., 2000).

Flavor Water Creatively

Adding slices of citrus fruit like lemons, limes or oranges provides flavor without extra calories. Herbal tea bags steeped in hot water can also infuse interesting tastes. Experimenting prevents boredom and makes hydration more enjoyable (DellaValle et al., 2005).

Snack Hydrating Foods

Fruits high in water content like watermelon, grapes and berries make for filling, nutritious snacks. These put fluids back into your body without extra effort. Consider packing these on long duty days (Mate & Roberts, 2019).

Move Around Periodically

When possible, take breaks to walk up and down the narrow aisles or do calf raises at your seat. Light physical activity improves circulation and provides relief from prolonged sitting which can concentrate fluids (Cabin Crew Safety, 2020).

Schedule Hydration Reminders

Set phone alerts or calendar reminders every 60 minutes to drink water, especially on ultra-long flights. Visual and audible cues help form a hydration habit overtime (Shirreffs, 2000).

Pack Electrolyte-Infused Water

On extra long routes, carry electrolyte-enhanced water to replenish lost minerals from sweat like sodium and potassium. Look for brands with few ingredients and sugars. This prevents dehydration symptoms like cramping (Shirreffs, 2005).

By making hydration an ongoing focus throughout flights, we can maximize well-being, physical performance and safety for ourselves as well as passengers during air travel. Small, intentional efforts go a long way toward aviation wellness.


References

Cabin Crew Safety. (2020, May 11). Prolonged sitting: Health risks and mitigation for cabin crew. Cabin Crew Safety. https://cabincrewsafety.com/prolonged-sitting-health-risks-mitigation-cabin-crew/

DellaValle, D. M., Roe, L. S., & Rolls, B. J. (2005). Does the consumption of caloric and non-caloric beverages with a meal affect energy intake? Appetite, 44(2), 187–193. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2004.11.008

Grandjean, A. C., Reimers, K. J., Bannick, K. E., & Haven, M. C. (2000). The effect of caffeinated, non-caffeinated, caloric and non-caloric beverages on hydration. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 19(5), 591-600. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2000.10718996

Mate, J., & Roberts, G. (2019). The role of fruit and vegetables in hydration: A review. Nutrients, 11(8), 1801. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11081801

Sanders, A. P., Vena, J. E., & Freeman, L. E. B. (2017). Hours worked per week and cancer mortality among US flight attendants in the national health and nutrition examination survey. Annals of Epidemiology, 27(8), 490-498. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annepidem.2017.06.007

Shirreffs, S. M. (2000). Markers of hydration status. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 40(1), 80-84.

Shirreffs, S. M. (2005). The importance of good hydration for work and exercise performance. Nutrition reviews, 63(suppl_1), S14-S21. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2005.tb00133.x

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