By Sarah Smith
With over 37.4 million flights scheduled each year, it comes as no surprise that travelers are interested in finding ways to stay healthy during their flights. Maintaining one’s health while air-bound is even more important during longer flights due to the extended exposure to low air pressure, cramped seating, and jet lag. These health concerns may be somewhat alarming, but with so many flights taking off each day, experts have compiled several tips to help your extended flight experience be as healthy and comfortable as possible.
Keep Your Body Moving and Hydrated
Long periods of flying go hand in hand with prolonged periods of stillness. Unfortunately, staying in the same position for too long can bring on some major health concerns. Muscles need frequent contraction in order for your blood to flow properly. Sitting in the same position for a lengthy period without contracting your muscles can lead to blood clots, or a condition called deep vein thrombosis. In order to avoid deep vein thrombosis and clotting read this, it is important to stay active during your flight. This can be done by simply contracting your calf muscles, or tapping your foot while sitting in your seat. Dehydration also increases the risk for blood clots and deep vein thrombosis, so be sure to drink plenty of fluids before and during your flight.
Ensure That You Are Well Rested
Many travelers are under the assumption that they can catch up on any missed sleep during their long trips. It is entirely possible that you may find yourself able to sleep the entire time, but it is also quite common for people to become too stimulated to sleep once they board. It is best to embark on your flight well-rested just in case you are unable to sleep during your travels. You may already be facing jet lag when crossing timezones, so you want to make sure that when you disembark from your flight that you are not at all sleep-deprived.
Create a Plan to Handle Anxiety
Aviophobia, (the fear of flying), is the third most common phobia. In fact, over 20 million Americans report that flying makes them nervous. Airlines have excelled greatly in the past years and are generally a very safe method of transportation, but you want to have a plan in place to tackle any anxiety in case it decides to hit. Some airlines offer practice courses that help people become prepared for major flights so that they know what to expect once it’s time to officially board. It is also important to have a support system that you can reach out to during your flight in case you start to feel anxious. Some even find comfort in talking to the cabin crew beforehand.
Be Aware of How to Handle Low Air Pressure
Planes typically travel up to 35,000 feet in the air where the air is much less habitable for human beings. The low air pressure has a tendency to decrease oxygen levels, which makes cardiac and respiratory patients even more vulnerable. In order to preserve healthy oxygen levels, try to refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages during your flight. It is also wise to consult with your primary care physician in order to acquire any equipment or other accommodations that you may need to ensure safe travels.
Save Your Ears from Popping
The low air pressure associated with long flights can also cause your ears to pop from contracting Eustachian tubes. To avoid this painful experience, be sure to carry chewing gum or hard candies with you on board. Taking a prescribed decongestant has also been proven to help alleviate ear-popping symptoms, especially when the user has a cold.
Extended flights may come with some increased health risks, but the end destination is always worth it. Being able to properly prepare for any potential health concerns will give you the ability to have a much more relaxing travel experience. Whether you decide to nap, eat, or watch an interesting film during your travels, you will be able to do so at ease knowing that you are in for a safe and healthy trip.