Travelling can be fun, highly satisfying and inspiring. But it can also be boring, limb stiffening and slightly mind-numbing if you have endless hours in-flight or waiting in airports for your journey.

The toll on the body and mind can be neglected as long-haul flights, for example, revolve around staring at your laptop, the video screen, listening to music, looking out the window, as well as eating and sleeping.

Sitting in your seat can cause muscle discomfort and aggravate unseen health issues, such as deep vein thrombosis, which can be life-threatening in some cases.  So here are several valuable exercises you can do to reduce the threat of DVT and keep your muscles supple.

Ankle rolls

Lift your feet off the floor, and with the toes pointed head, revolve your toes and feet in either small or large circular motions. Make sure your ankles are exercised for both feet.

Toes to the floor

Get upright in your seat and point your toes to the floor. Hold for 20 seconds, then relax and repeat for three reps.

Leg cross

Lift your left leg cross to the right and hold it on your right thigh. Tighten for 5 seconds and repeat with your other leg.

Knee lifts

While in your seat, lift your legs to your chest by pulling your knees inwards. Hold your knees for 15 seconds and release for a few seconds. Lift them again for a rep of three.

Forward flex

This works for the body's core. With your fleet on the floor, gradually work your hands down to your ankles and lower your upper body until your chest reaches your thighs. Hold for 20 seconds, rise slowly and then repeat three times.

Stretch sideways

In a seated position, simply turn to the left and hold for ten seconds, then repeat for the right side of the body. Do this a number of times as you see fit.

Shoulder rolls

Roll the shoulders forward several times in a circular motion and then reverse the movement.

Shoulder stretch

Interlace your fingers, bend forward and lift your arms as high as possible. Hold and then repeat several times


Another exercise that can be done in your seat is to reach across with your left arm to your right shoulder and similar with your right arm to your left shoulder. Pull tightly into a hug pose and hold for several seconds. Relax and repeat five times.

Don't forget the neck

When seated, you can lower your chin, rotate your head in one direction, and repeat in the other five times apiece. Another stretch is dropping your right ear to your right shoulder and holding it before repeating it on the other side.

A plane workout

Another option while on board is to take a short stroll to keep blood circulating and relieve muscle tension. This can be done if you have any short stopovers. You could also utilise the restroom for a mini-workout, such as quad stretches, stomach exercises and gentle back stretches.

Read the guide

Airlines are now more attuned to helping travellers exercise on board with some exercise options in their in-flight magazine or a leaflet in the hold. Utilise them as you see fit. If you have any medical concerns, seek a doctor for advice before embarking on an exercise.

Andy Probert - The Wise TravellerAndy Probert is an experienced freelance business travel journalist and PR specialist.