8 Exercises You Can Do on the Plane
For most travelers, flight time is spent catching up on sleep, watching a movie or getting work done. But sitting still for long periods of time is bad for your health, slowing insulin production and calorie loss. At worst, inactivity can cause life-threatening thrombosis (blood clots).
Anja Dikeman is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer who coaches her clients to make use of time spent on airplanes to burn calories and strengthen core muscles. "If there is time, I work out," she says. "In an airplane you have nothing but time. You can't get a complete workout in, and cardio is out of the question, but every little bit counts."
Dikeman's routine is simple: Wear comfortable clothes, stow an exercise band in your carry-on and ignore sideways glances from curious seatmates. All of these exercises can be done in the space of a 17-inch-wide coach cabin seat.
Each exercise can be done in three sets of 15 repetitions.
Seated calf raises
Place your hands on your thighs and feet flat on the floor. Exhale and raise your heels off the ground, holding for a few seconds, to strengthen the muscles in the back of your calves. (Placing a heavy computer bag across your thighs increases intensity.) Alternate with toe lifts.
This move works the front calf muscles. In the same position as above, exhale and raise the balls of both feet off the ground, holding for one or two seconds. Inhale and release.
Exhale and pull your belly button in toward your spine. Hold for a beat, release while inhaling and repeat. This move strengthens your back and tightens your stomach.
Slip the exercise band under your feet and grip both ends with your hands. Keep your abs tight, tuck in your chin and bend your arms at your elbows until your hands reach your chest. Bring your arms back down to your sides and repeat.
Modified military press
With the exercise band still under your feet, bend your elbows as above, then move your arms in front of your body with your hands facing out. Exhale and push up until your arms are almost straight above you. Inhale, lower your arms and repeat.
The next three exercises are done in the bathroom, so choose your moment!
Stand with your back to the toilet, keep your torso vertical with your weight on your heels, and lightly place your hands on your thighs or above your head. Gaze straight ahead, squat at the knees and straighten up from your heels. Do as many as you can until someone comes knocking!
Working the more than 40 muscles in your face "keeps skin nice and tight so you won't need plastic surgery," Dikeman says. Move your jaw side to side, open your mouth wide and push your lips out. "There's no science to it, but it helps tighten a loose neck and feels good on a long flight."
Lastly, fidgeting — shifting body weight, tapping feet and drumming fingers — might drive your seatmate crazy, but it can burn up to 300 extra calories a day!