For anyone who has experienced the luxurious adventure of flying coach, one of the most inhumane aspects of traveling is the long flight itself. Not only are the cramped seats too small and awkwardly shaped to actually recline, but the crying baby two seats up and the perpetual line of bathroom goers stumbling into your armrest does little to promote a sense of relaxation or comfort. To make matters worse, the elderly man in front of you with a passion for readjusting his chair seems intent on destroying both your kneecaps and patience as each minute passes.
In between bouts of unconsciousness, spurred onwards by a steady combination of domestic beer and anti-anxiety medication, you may find yourself in extreme discomfort as your now contorted figure grows sore and cramped. While you would like nothing more than to stand up and stretch your legs, the chastisement of the flight attendants is enough to dissuade you, as is the assurance that the very moment you leave the last edible meal will pass you in a hurry.
Well look on the bright side. Now you may not have to. Here are a series of short stretches and exercises you can perform in your seat to reduce stress, regain your sanity, and work some blood back into your muscles all at once. Now that’s multitasking at its finest.
Start with some deep breaths - Keep your feet firmly planted on the floor with your shoulders back and relaxed and your eyes closed. Focus on inhaling slowly and steadily until your lungs are full, then forcefully exhaling through your mouth.
- Tilt your neck to one side until your ear touches your shoulder, hold for a few seconds and switch sides.
- Perform a similar stretch towards the front and back, pulling your chin into your chest and back up towards the ceiling.
- Hug one knee into your chest and hold the position for a few seconds before switching sides. Do a full set of these.
- Stationary calf raises – Keep your legs firmly planted and raise your heels off the ground using the front of your foot. Put a bag on your lap to add resistance if you want more of a workout.
- Ankle rotations – Keeping your legs, straight twist your ankles in a full circle. You should feel it as they pop and loosen up.
- Shrug your shoulders up and down. Raise them up to your head and lower them again while keeping your shoulder blades down and back,
- Flex your trapezius muscles and pull your shoulders forwards and backwards.
- Rotate your shoulders in a circle with your arms in front of you.
- Stretch your arms forwards with your fingers interlocked and place them on the seat in front of you. Hold that position and stretch your arms out.
- With your elbows at your sides, interlock your fingers and pull them into your chest. Push your hands together and into each other using your chest and pectoral muscles.
- Place your hands on the seat in front and rotate your torso from one side to the other.
- Stretch your abs and lower back by reaching directly above you. Grasp the ceiling if you can and hold the position.
- Isometric ab work – Focus on clenching and tightening your abdominal muscles. Squeeze your core as tightly as you can for five seconds while inhaling deeply, then release as you exhale. Try a set of ten.
- Leg raises – Keeping your legs in front of you, try to raise your knees as far up as you can while keeping your back firmly against the seat.
If you are a true gym-fanatic, there are a variety of other makeshift exercises you can try. Walking lunges to the bathroom and back will give you a good stretch, as will some push-ups in the aisle (preferably when most people are asleep). I would suggest some pull ups or dips on the doorways, but this is at your own peril, as if they cannot support your weight you may end up looking like a buffoon (no further comment).
(Image via FitSugar)