Health

How to travel right: 8 tips for staying fit when you fly

I fly a lot, and the long-haul trips are never pleasant. I'm generally crammed into economy, with its excessively salty meal (to compensate for the loss of taste at high altitudes) and low possibilities for mobility.

Woman at the airport near a plane

Masterfile

I fly a lot, and the long-haul trips are never pleasant. I’m generally crammed into economy, with its excessively salty meals (to compensate for the loss of taste at high altitudes) and low possibilities for mobility. Jet lag is usually abysmal, and airlines typically only offer general tips like “stay hydrated” and “get up and move around the cabin every now and then.” But on a recent trip on Qatar Airways, I noticed that they have a much more comprehensive manual, produced in conjunction with meditation guru Deepak Chopra, for staying fit when you fly. The “Fly Healthy, Fly Fit” guide is helpfully specific in its instructions, and includes tips from Ayurvedic practices. For example:

1. On a long flight, you should drink half your body’s weight (in pounds) in ounces of water. So if you weigh 140 pounds, then you should drink 70 ounces (or 2 litres) of water.

2. If you’re flying through several time zones, change your watch only as you pass through each time zone rather than immediately setting it to the time in your final destination.

3. If your mind is racing and you can’t sleep, try writing in a journal.

4. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, both of which will further dehydrate the body, and only eat lightly and when hungry.

5. To encourage blood circulation while seated, take turns lifting and rotating your toes, ankles and knees. Repeat these exercises every hour.

6. Practice seated sun salutations by pressing your palms together in front of your heart. While still pressed together, reach your hands up over your head and stretch your shoulders and upper back while you inhale. Then, bend forward as far as you can while you exhale. Next, clasp your hands around your left knee and straighten your back while extending your arms, and then roll your upper body forward, towards your knee. Repeat with right knee. Finally, stretch both hands toward the sky, extending the spine as much as possible, before returning to the original, pressed palms position.

7. Practice seated meditation by making yourself comfortable and closing your eyes. Take a deep, slow breath through your nose while thinking of a long, drawn out version of the word “so.” Then, exhale through your nose while thinking of the word “hum.” Repeat, slowly, for 20 to 30 minutes to calm the brain and body.

8. In Ayurveda, a daily self-massage is recommended to keep the body young and support immune function. For example, try using both palms to simultaneously massage your forehead at the temples, using circular motions. Lightly rub both ears, and then massage the front and back of the neck with open palms.