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One of the situations where sitting for extended periods of time is absolutely unavoidable is during airline travel. This can be very hard on the body – especially if (like most of us) you do not have the means to fly business or first class. This exact issue was one of the major motivating factors in the creation of the WellShell. We wanted a small, easily portable device that could be used anywhere, anytime – including close cramped quarters – for full body exercise.

During our recent WellShell airline photo shoot we had the opportunity to allow some pilots to try the WellShell and get their impressions. It was interesting to learn that they already do isometric based exercises regularly in the cockpit to address the ill effects of sitting for extended periods of time. They completely understood the importance of core strength to maintain overall health, and they thought that the WellShell was an innovative way to accomplish this. They could see the very practical application of our device for airline travel, both for themselves and for the passengers!

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Being Active on a Plane

If possible, try to get up and walk around the plane as much as you can. Michael Zimring, MD, director of the Center for Wilderness and Travel Medicine at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore explains that “Moving your legs by walking to and from the bathroom can help prevent ‘economy class syndrome,’ also known as deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots in your legs that develop after long flights.”

If this is not possible, (fasten seat-belt sign is on, grouchy or sleeping row mates, etc.) try to move around and stretch a bit in your seat. The key is to keep muscles contracting and to keep blood flowing. This is where the WellShell comes into play – you can do a multitude of seated exercises with it to stimulate blood flow in various parts of the body, and as an added bonus, you can use it to play games to keep yourself entertained! One of our favorites is the seated calf press (pictured below).

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Also, if you have a layover, don’t just sit around – take advantage of it to stretch your legs and walk around the airport! This is also a great time to find some healthy food so that you are not tempted by that $7 pack of M&Ms during the flight.

Dealing with Jet Lag

Set your watch to the destination time zone when you depart. If you are flying east, try to get up and go to bed earlier for a few days before you travel; if you are flying west do the reverse. Only sleep on the flight if it is nighttime at you destination. If you sleep easily on flights, book you trip so that you arrive in the morning, but if you struggle to sleep on a plane then book your arrival for the evening and stay awake until you get there. Try to get as much natural light as you can when you arrive (with the proper sun protection of course) to help reset your internal clock. If it is a very short trip (and your plans allow) try to maintain the hours you normally would at home.

Other Helpful Tips

Drink lots of water! The recirculated air in planes is incredibly dry and you will become dehydrated much more quickly than usual. Try to drink a glass/bottle every hour. This can also help to avoid DVT.

Bring hand sanitizer/wet wipes and wipe down the space around you when you sit down (seat-belt buckle, tray, seat, etc.) to kill any germs left by the person sitting there on the previous flight.

Invest in a neck pillow. They really do make a long flight much more comfortable.

Dress in comfortable layers – you never know if you will be on a flight that is freezing or sweltering – it is best to be prepared for all temperatures.

And remember, if you find yourself on a flight full of venomous snakes, contact Samuel L. Jackson immediately.

Bon Voyage!