Day of your flight: the airport workout
Sitting still for long periods of time, whether on your couch at home or on a plane, doesn't do your body any favors. While you can't do much about the length of your flight, you can offset the inevitable sitting by exercising before your flight. If you have enough time to hit the gym before you head to the airport, great. If not, here's your pre-flight airport workout:
Take a walk. Walk the airport concourse for 15 to 30 minutes before your flight starts boarding. Don't stroll -- book it and get your blood flowing. Pretend you are desperately late for a flight -- everyone will get out of your way!
Stretch out. Once you're at the gate, stretch to keep yourself from getting stiff during the next several hours of sitting. The key here is to focus on lengthening the muscles that shorten while seated.
- Calf stretch: Face a wall, place your palms against the wall, and step your right foot forward, pushing the ball of your foot against the wall with your heel on the ground. Lean forward into the wall as you press down through your right heel, feeling a stretch in your right calf. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch legs.
- Quad stretch: Stand with your left shoulder about a foot from a wall and place your left palm on the wall lightly for support. Bend your right knee, lifting your foot behind you before grasping the top of your right foot with your right hand. Keeping your right knee pointing toward the ground, use your hand to pull your foot toward the same-side glute, lengthening the quads. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds before switching legs.
- Hip flexor stretch: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, your hands on your hips. Take a big step forward with your right foot, planting your heel. Bend both knees slightly to "sink" into the staggered stance, then scoop your tailbone under as you press your hips forward until you feel a stretch through the front of your left hip. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch legs.
- Seated figure-4 stretch: Take a seat on any sturdy chair with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-distance apart. Lift your left foot from the ground and cross your left ankle over your right knee, allowing your left knee to open outward to form a "4" with your right leg. Place one hand lightly on each knee and sit up straighter in your chair before tipping forward from your hips until you feel a stretch through the outside of your left hip and glute. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, deepening the stretch as you can, before switching legs.
- Chest opener: Stand tall with your feet planted hip-distance apart, your arms at your sides. Clasp your hands together behind your glutes and press your palms downward, drawing your shoulders back as you simultaneously look up toward the ceiling, stretching your chest wide. Hold for 30 seconds.