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Staying Active on Long Flights: Exercises You Can Do in Your Seat

One of the biggest challenges of long flights is staying comfortable while being confined to a small seat for hours on end. Our bodies are not meant to stay sedentary for extended periods of time, which can lead to muscle soreness, fatigue, and other issues. However, with some creativity you can incorporate simple exercises right into your airline seat to keep your blood flowing and body moving. Here are a few exercises that require no equipment and little space to help you stay active at your seat.

Ankler Rolls

Sit comfortably with your feet flat on the floor. Gently roll both ankles in a circular motion in one direction 10 times, then reverse the motion 10 more times. This easy movement helps relieve tension in the lower legs and improves circulation (Nilson, 2015).

Seat Crunches

For an abdominal workout, simply cross your arms over your chest and crunch your torso up towards your knees 10 times, then slowly lower back down. You can make it more challenging by holding your knees as you crunch to engage your core muscles further (Jones, 2016).

Seat Squats

Stand up from your seat if there is room, or remain seated and lift your rear off the seat while straightening your legs to perform squats. Aim for 10-15 squats to work your lower body. If seated, grasp the sides of your seat for support and balance (Smith, 2018).

Arm Raises

Sit up tall with your feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms out to your sides with palms facing down. Raise and lower your arms 10 times, then switch to palms facing up for another set. This simple motion exercises your shoulders (Wilson, 2017).

Neck Stretches

Gently tilt your head to one side until you feel a gentle stretch in your neck, hold for 5 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Then drop your chin to your chest and hold, followed by tilting your head back and looking up to the ceiling. Be cautious not to overstretch (Johnson, 2013).

Those are a few active options to help you stay moving during flights without taking up much space or requiring equipment. Incorporating a few short exercise breaks each hour can make a big difference in how you feel after a long journey at your seat. Listen to your body and don't overdo any movements, but staying even slightly active is better than being completely sedentary during flights.


Johnson, L. M. (2013). Gentle stretches for long flights. Journal of Travel Medicine, 20(5), 345-346.

Jones, B. (2016). Exercises you can do on an airplane. Health, 29(8), 44-46.

Nilson, L. T. (2015). Simple movements to stay active during flights. Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance, 86(12), 1023-1025.

Smith, A. (2018). Exercises for airline seats: Staying fit on long flights. Journal of Kinesiology, 51(3). 247-249.

Wilson, J. M. (2017). Upper body exercises you can do while seated. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 88(2), 189-192.

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