Airplane navigation: how to stay healthy on a long-haul flight

Airplane navigation: how to stay healthy on a long-haul flight

From tips on snacking to stretching on the plane, discover tips for staying healthy on long-haul flights.

With the return of air travel, the prospect of long-haul flights is exciting but also daunting. To help us navigate our reintroduction to air travel, fitness expert Andrea Marcellus shares her tips for staying healthy on a long-haul trip, including some surprising tips on snacking (no trail mix !) and tips for sleeping comfortably upright.


  • Two weeks before your trip, start writing down the foods that make you feel thin and help regulate your digestion. Stick to these foods 24-48 hours before your flight.
  • During the flight, eat as cleanly as possible and avoid as much dried fruits, trail mixes and worthless starches as possible. They are too calorie dense to sit for long and can leave you feeling bloated. Also, avoid salty foods like chips or jerky. Long flights alone can cause you to retain water, so it’s best not to add extra salt.
  • Consider bringing your own snacks like apples with nut butter in squeeze pouches that you can eat without the need for utensils. Also small bags of grain free granolas which you can choose instead of chips.


  • The key to all stretches is to go in and out rather than just holding a static stretch because your muscles are cold. Getting up and walking for a few minutes before stretching will help.
  • Try a “four hip stretch”: place one ankle on your opposite knee and simply pull your chest forward for 4 counts, then release. Repeat 5-10 times to relax your hips and lower back, then switch sides.
  • Or a “modified camel pose”: sit forward in the seat, place your hands behind you, fingertips facing forward. Keeping your chin down, inhale and push down as you pull your chest up towards the ceiling for 4 counts. Release and repeat 5-10 times to relax your chest and neck.


  • Taking magnesium about an hour before bedtime can be helpful (and help keep you regular).
  • Put a bag under your feet to raise your knees to hip height, reducing back pain. Use the headrest flaps or a neck pillow to maintain your neck alignment. And definitely use a sleep mask (or do what I do and wrap a sweatshirt or pashmina around your head to really create a good sleep bubble!)

Suitcase training

Simply hold the handle of your suitcase up (and locked) for balance and perform the following beginner moves three times:

  • Reverse lunges to strengthen the quadriceps (15 repetitions on each leg)
  • Jump in and out for a cardio burst (30 second intervals)
  • Calf raises to work the calf muscles (30 repetitions)
  • Narrow squats to tone and sculpt the glutes and thighs (20 reps)
  • Leg lifts to burn the glutes (20 repetitions on each leg)


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