How to stay healthy during a long haul flight

-Apr 16, Caroline Blight, Health -

how to stay healthy on a long haul flight
There’s nothing better than that feeling when you have just booked a long haul holiday. But this is one case where the destination is always better than the journey. We ask an expert how to stay healthy on a long haul flight. 


With weather forecasts predicting yet more rain over the coming months, many of us are planning to take to the skies in search of warmer climes.

Long-haul destinations such as Florida, California, Mexico, Dubai and the Caribbean islands are still proving popular for holidaymakers, with the average minimum flight time to faraway shores standing at about four hours thirty minutes at the very least.

For those with poor circulation, being seated for a long time on flights longer than four hours can not only increase the risk of developing blood clots and Deep Vein Thrombosis.

It can also prevent efficient circulation of oxygenated blood around the body causing aching and swollen ‘heavy’ legs.


How to stay healthy during a long haul flight…


Pharmacist Jagdeesh Cheema whose experience spans both community and hospital settings and is now the Superintendent Pharmacist at has put together some tips on how to help alleviate the effects that long-haul travel can have on the circulation.

Why moving around during a long haul flight is crucial 


Scientific research has connected sitting for lengthy periods of time with a whole host of health conditions including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes to name but a few.

Sitting for a long time can encourage blood to collect in your lower legs (especially your feet and ankles) making them swollen and painful.

Taking a walk up and down the plane at least a couple of times during the flight and move your feet and legs to prevent the blood from collecting in this way.

As well as making good use of the aisles, try rotating your ankles in a clockwise and anticlockwise position.

Alternatively, keep your heels on the floor and point your toes towards the ceiling, and point them back down at the floor.  Try and repeat each exercise 5-10 times every hour.

How to reduce your risk of contracting DVT on a long flight 


They might not be part of your highly fashionable in-flight outfit, but flight socks should be an essential part of your on-board attire.

NHS direct advises that wearing compression stockings on flights of four hours or more can reduce your risk or DVT as well as aching and swollen legs.

They are designed to apply gentle pressure to the ankle to assist blood flow and are available in different sizes and levels of compression.

Why alcohol is a bad idea when flying and keeping hydrated is essential 


As tempting as it may be to indulge in the delights of the in-flight drinks menu, both alcohol and caffeine are dehydrating and can encourage an increase in toxins in the bloodstream.

Making sure that you keep hydrated on board the aircraft will encourage the body to flush out toxins, which could cause discomfort.  Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that drinking ice cold water encourage veins to close, so it’s better to drink it at room temperature to avoid this happening.



How to keep healthy after your flight…


Go for a walk

Make the most of your surroundings upon arrival and take a stroll around the local town.  Walking stimulates blood flow and circulation and helps to disperse any fluid that may have built up throughout the flight.


Keep feet elevated

Also known as ‘static recovery’, when reading a book in the comfort of your accommodation, try and keep your feet elevated above heart level to encourage blood flow away from your legs and feet and towards your heart.  This also helps to reduce pain and swelling.


Take a dip

Make the most of your hotel or villa pool and revive aching swollen legs by having a gentle swim upon arrival.  This will help to increase blood flow, disperse fluid build up and take the pressure off of already tired feet.


And, if you’d like to fight jet-lag and arrive energised here’s some tips from one of our experts. Also, if you’re heading to a sunshine destination, don’t forget to pack your Lumity and plenty of toxin free SPF suncream.

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