A body of research exists on how prolonged periods of inactivity adversely affect our physical and mental health. Most studies focus on the long-term consequences of living a sedentary lifestyle; however, a new report featured in the Washington Post suggests it takes just one idle day to feel the effects.
According to the study, a body’s insulin response plummets after a single day of inactivity. Furthermore, blood circulation slows, which can lead to deep vein thrombosis (DVT)—varicose veins and the blood clots. For frequent fliers, the risk heightens because the altitude exacerbates the aforesaid effects.
Thankfully, if you’re stuck in a car or airplane for hours, there are simple strategies for keeping your body active.
For long drives, schedule ample pit stops along the way—not just for food and bathrooms, but also just to walk around. Although doing so may make the trip longer, you’ll feel refreshed behind the wheel and your body will be less stiff upon your arrival.
However you choose to travel, you can also perform simple stretches and exercises from your seat. For example, lift your feet and roll your ankles or bounce them up and down for a few minutes. For the upper body, you can roll your shoulders and neck or rotate your arms.
Exercising in your seat may seem awkward, so we encourage you to get up as much as you can. On airplanes, stand up when the seatbelt sign turns off. You can do larger exercise motions waiting for the bathroom or at the back of the plane too. Trains offer similar space for you to move around.