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8 Top Tips to Keep Healthy When Flying

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1.  Get Some Sleep

  • Take ear plugs – helps to block out noise – also noise cancelling earphones available to buy (good price on amazon)  
  • Take an eye mask – blocks out sunbeams reacting with the clouds
  • Take a spare top or blanket – hard to sleep if feeling cold
  • Take a U shaped travel pillow – more comfortable and prevents your head dropping and neck pain
  • Take melatonin, sleeping tablet or chamomile tea with you to help aid sleep – try not to drink alcohol to help you sleep due to it causing dehydration and a possible hangover!
  • Get involved in a session of exercise the day before ie. jogging, cycling or the gym.
  • If in pain seek help from a physiotherapist before you fly
  • Secure your safety seat belt when trying to sleep so you are not woken up during any turbulence


2.  Prevent Dehydration

  • Drink plenty of water before boarding
  • Save money – take an empty bottle of water through security and refill from a water fountain the other side
  • Aim to drink 200ml water every hour (awake) on the flight
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine – if unavoidable drink a glass of water for every alcoholic/caffeine drink
  • Ensure skin well moisturised before, during and after the flight
  • Use eye drops to help prevent dry eyes
  • Remove contact lenses early on and keep bottle of saline solution to bathe in with you
  • Use a nasal spray to help moisturise the delicate membrane and hairs inside the nose
  • A lip salve will help prevent dryness and cracking of the lips

3.  Exercise

  • Helps you developing pain from sitting too long
  • Helps prevent swelling of the feet and legs
  • Helps prevent a DVT (see below)
  • A good exercise session the day before can help reduce stress and sleep better as a result
  • In Flight Exercises – video below and Printable Exercise handout show a range of exercises which help to move the joints, stretch the muscles and improve circulation.
  • Take a short walk around the plane when possible – best done when the lights are on to avoid disturbing those asleep!

3) Relieve Back, Neck or Joint Pain

  • Seek help from a physiotherapist before and after the flight
  • Microwaveable heat packs can help in some cases – the air crew will be able to heat up for you
  • Single use heat up patches (can purchase from most chemists) can stick on the painful area and help in some cases
  • Remember your pain medication
  • Not sitting too long at a time will help – get up and move around every hour or so
  • Carry out the exercises described above
  • Choose an aisle seat or exit seat when checking in or seat near the exit so can stretch the legs out
  • A good exercise session the day before can help reduce pain on the flight from being still so long
  • If swimming possible at the destination go for a swim after the flight – helps relieve most body pains – if not try a warm bath
  • Treat yourself to a massage before or after the flight


4.  Good Food

  • Avoid saturated and salty food buying before the flight (ie MaccyD’s) – can restrict blood flow leading to swelling of feet and risk of DVT
  • Take some healthy snacks or a healthy meal on board with you.  Examples include nuts, dried fruit, ryvitas, chicken salad sandwich, wholewheat pasta with meat sauce or veg.
  • Best not to take foods on board with mayonnaise if intending on waiting a while before consuming
  • Avoid fizzy drinks – contribute to cramps and bloating
  • Avoid foods that cause gas and bloating before and during flight such as cauliflower, onions, baked beans.
  • Eating good food helps prevent a DVT (see below)

3) Avoid a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

A DVT is when a blood clot forms deep inside the body and when it releases itself it can lodge in the brain, lungs or heart causing severe damage.

  • Take a mild dose of aspirin (100-150mg) day before, during and for 3 days after the flight (advised by Aviation Health Institute) – helps to improve blood flow
  • Wear compression socks – they CAN look cool!!! – check out the selection below – click on to buy
  • Perform exercises as described above
  • Use airport leg/feet massage chairs available in some airports – help improve blood flow before and after a flight

7) Avoid Getting Ill

  • There are germs everywhere in the air and on most surfaces on planes due to so many people using them ie. in flight magazines, arm rests, head rests – take a hand sanitiser wipes or gel with you
  • Avoid alcohol – hangovers feel like you are ill!
  • If you have a cold try a decongestant 30 mins before boarding
  • Follow the tips above on exercise and eating well

8) Flying After an Operation or Injury

  • FIRST consult your GP or Surgeon as to whether you are fit to fly
  • Check with the airline – each airline has different restrictions on who can fly
  • If have a cast may have to have it released to ease the pressure from flying
  • Follow all tips suggested above – check with your physio before flying which of the in-flight exercises are suitable
  • If still suffering from swelling then ice the area before and after the flight and take a portable ice pack with you
  • Choose an aisle seat at check in so can put the legs out
  • Organise for a wheelchair to be available when you arrive at the airport if on crutches or walking is restricted
  • If you are in pain seek help from a physiotherapist before or after you fly