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Flight Movement: Fitness in a Seat

The Linked Fit team has put in a lot of SkyMiles, so we thought this article would be fitting!

Traveling in an airplane can stress the body by means of long travels, night flights, multiple flights per day, and even crossing different time zones (Drongelen et al, 2015). This can heavily disrupt the circadian rhythm which can impact sleep quality and overall negative consequences in wellness (Drongelen et al, 2015). Ikonen et al (2018) report that the continuous growth in air travel is likely to increase the spread of diseases between countries and continents. As you travel, be aware that maintaining good health will need some special considerations.

Depending on the flight, it can be a short flight (ex. 45 minutes) or long flight (ex. 17 hours) in a seated or semi-lying position. It has been suggested that greater occupational edema is more common in individuals that work for longer periods in the seated position (Belczak et al, 2018). Edema is known to cause discomfort which can result in the feeling of heaviness and tiredness (Belczak et al, 2018). These feelings may lead to experiences of reduced productivity and quality of life (Belczak et al, 2018).

Although it is important to take care of your body while you travel, this article is focused on the movements that can be done while sitting at your seat on a long flight. Also, what other preventative measures can be done to help prevent blood clotting or edema of the lower extremities.

Ankle Rotations

20 repetitions - each side

Ankle Pumps

20 repetitions - each side

Hip Flexion

10 repetitions - each side

Knee Hugs

20 to 30 seconds - each side

Overhead Reach with Lateral Flexion

20 to 30 seconds - each side

We recommend completing these movements with the guided repetitions at least once every hour on a flight. Of course, the repetitions can be modified accordingly. A big focus is to implement movement while you're nearly glued to your seat for the range of the flight.


Compression stockings have been shown to reduce edema with individuals that experience prolonged sitting (Belczak et al, 2018). The immobility of the lower body while in the prolonged seated position may result in phlebologic conditions because of the lack of movement. Compression sleeves like Nu Bandage can help provide positive pressure for the lower legs while traveling. Compressions sleeves that are higher in positive compressions values (ex. 20 to 30 mmHg) may have a greater effect on volumetric measurements of the lower limbs (Belczak et al, 2018). Nu Bandage has three compression sleeves (Low = 6.2 to 9.9 mmHg; Medium = 12.1 to 14.5 mmHg; and High = 27.1 to 37.9 mmHg) which can help reduce the symptoms of moderate to severe edema.

When do I wear the compression sleeves?

The compression sleeves can be worn during the time-frame of the flight. The Nu Bandage products can be easily stored in your carry-on luggage or backpack. When flight in boarding, the sleeves can easily be put on in the bathroom or if you have shorts on. The recommended area is the lower limbs of the legs (pictures to the right). If you have any discomfort during the flight because of the compression sleeves, adjust them accordingly or remove them. Check out the YouTube video below to watch how they wear them.


  • Belczak, C. E. Q., Godoy, J. M. P., Seidel, A. C. Belczak, S., Ramos, R. N., & Caffaro, R. A. (2018). Comparison of 15-20 mmHg versus 20-30 mmHg compression stocking in reducing occupational edema in standing and seated healthy individuals. International Journal of Vascular Medicine, 1-6.

  • Drongelen, A., Beek, A. J., Penders, G. B. S., Hlobil, H., Smid, T., & Boot, C. R. L. (2015). Sickness absence and flight type exposure in-flight crew members. Occupational Medicine, (65), 61-66.

  • Ikone, N., Savolainen-Kopra, C., Enstone, J. E., Kulmala, I., Pasanen, P., Salmela, A., Salo, S., Nguyen-Van-Tam, J. S., and Ruutu, P. (2018). Deposition of repiratory virus pathogens on frequency touched surfaces at airports. BMC Infectious Diseases, 18(437), 1-7.


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