How to Exercise During Travel

December 10th, 2019

As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, there is a chance you are consumed in planning your holiday vacation. And while this may seem exciting, there is probably one thing that does not sound as exciting: getting there. Whether you are faced with a restrictive car ride or a lengthy flight, sitting for hours is most likely not on your bucket list of things to do this holiday season –and rightfully so.

Prolonged periods of restrictive sitting and inactivity can wreak havoc on your body. Without preparation, it is nearly inevitable that you will fall victim to some form of pain or discomfort while traveling this holiday season.

In addition to discomfort, sitting for a long period can result in health problems such as stiffness, body aches and pains, poor circulation and blood clots. By engaging in light to moderate exercise, you can prevent the risk of discomfort and avoid health issues associated with long travel. Below are light exercise tips that Rothman Orthopaedic Institute believes can help to reduce any pain you may face during travel, allowing you to take control of your holiday season:

For travel by airplane:

  • Stand up and stretch. Throughout your flight, the pilot will click off the fasten seatbelt sign; this is your opportunity to move about the cabin. Take a walk up and down the aisle to loosen your tight muscles. Stand up and stretch your arms over your head, then bend down and touch your toes. It is important that you take this time to stretch your muscles and to get your blood flowing.
  • Take advantage of your seat. To improve circulation and avoid cramping, you can do light and simple exercises in the comfort of your seat. Rothman Orthopaedic’s has broken down simple seat stretches targeting vulnerable regions of your body.
    • Foot and ankle: Lift your feet off the ground, and alternate between pointing and flexing your toes. This exercise can prevent cramping and increase blood flow down your legs and throughout your feet.
    • Neck: Relax your neck and shoulders then slowly place your chin to your chest. Alternate between rolling your head clockwise and then counterclockwise. This exercise can help prevent stiffness in your neck, while also helping to relax the tension in your shoulders.
    • Shoulder: Roll your shoulder blades in a forward circular motion five times, then repeat your shoulder rolls in the opposite direction. This stretch can help with any tension residing in your upper back and neck.

For travel by car:

  • Focus on your legs. It is important to exercise your legs while in a car to reduce the risk of swelling, fatigue, discomfort and clotting. To do this, open your toes as wide as you can and count to 10. After you do this, release the tension in your toes and repeat three times for every half an hour you are sitting.
  • Work those glutes. Count to five while you tighten your calf muscles, then your thigh muscles, then your gluteal muscles. This helps to combat cramping and to improve circulation. 
  • Take advantage of pit stops. In the long run, your body will appreciate you taking the time to step out of the car. During this time, you have the freedom to do as you wish. Rothman Orthopaedic’s recommends that you either take a short, brisk walk, or that you stand up and stretch your arms over your head, then bend down and touch your toes.

If you are traveling via bus or train this holiday season, standing, stretching, and walking in the aisle can help you to combat any pain or discomfort. You can also walk in place at your seat if you have enough room, or take a few minutes in the bathroom to stretch your legs.

And if you're the type of person who sticks to a strict workout routine, you don't have to sacrifice your program just because you're traveling. Here are a few things to keep in mind when taking your fitness program on vacation:

  • Stick to the basics. Don’t doubt the effectiveness of traditional sit-ups, push-ups, squats, lunges, and planks. These powerful exercises take little room and can be performed just about anywhere.
  • Pack your workout. Whether it be a jump rope or a resistance band, consider packing small and easily transportable workout tools to enhance your workout.
  • Walk around the town. Whether you are visiting family or staying in a hotel, ask recommendations for a nice place to walk. Take advantage of the beautiful sights and get your heart rate up while doing so. If you want to kick up the intensity of this exercise, turn it into a run!

Traveling can result in an uncomfortable holiday season, filled with aches, pains, and stiffness, but this year, it doesn’t have too. With these tips in mind, Rothman Orthopaedic Institute hopes that you have a happy, healthy, and comfortable holiday season.



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