Staying Healthy While Traveling

September 16, 2013

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at “Jet Blue” terminal, JFK… some yoga before boarding my flight

Fall is here. It’s colder and dryer, our bodies perhaps slightly more stiff than usual. To add to this, end-of-year holidays are just around the corner and traveling to visit family and friends is part of the routine for many. So how  do you stay in shape when your body starts craving heavier foods and it becomes naturally less flexible than usual? Here are 10 tips on staying healthy while traveling.

1) Keep hydrated with water. The more you drink, the less stiff you will be. Drinking water also improves digestion and therefore helps the body get rid of toxins. The more liquid in your body, the less hungry you will be. Buy water at the airport and stay away from sugary or cream-laden beverages.

2) While you can’t get through security with bottled water, they won’t confiscate food. Pack your own travel snack. A trail mix of raw nuts and seeds mixed with dried fruit—sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, chopped apricots, for example—is always great to have on hand. A handful a day is a healthy serving. Fresh fruit such as banana or apples are also a good option. Stay away from crackers, cookies, and greasy potato or corn chips. On a flight there is little room to move around, so you won’t be burning those calories fast enough, and feeling heavy disturbs sleep or a chance at a good rest.

Homemade trail mix

Homemade trail mix

3) Some airport vendors will open as early at 5:00 AM, and I’ve seen people eat breakfast at that time when they probably never do. In other words, just because you’re at the airport waiting to board an early flight, doesn’t mean you should inhale breakfast first thing for fear that you’ll skip a meal. Skip the meal because you don’t need to eat an egg, bacon and cheese sandwich, especially that early in the morning!

4) Here are healthy food choices always available at the airport: fresh fruit, salads, vegetarian or grilled chicken wraps. Occasionally, sushi is available. For beverages bottled vegetable/fruit juices and water.

5) Avoid alcoholic or soft drinks during inflight service and keep caffeine (both coffee and tea) to a minimum. Be sure to rehydrate with water (see #1).

6) Plan ahead and order kosher and or vegetarian meals. These are the healthiest options on any long flight.

7) You have at least an hour if not two to kill at the airport before boarding your flight and getting into those uncomfortable seats, especially in Economy. Rather than browse the contents of a store or get on your computer, give yourself that time to stretch. A few yoga poses will go a long way.

8) Inflight exercise is possible. Walk to the back of the cabin to get the blood flowing in your legs and arms, and stretch. When seated, bring your knees up to your chest on one side then the other. Do this several times. If you can and are flexible, stretch your leg straight above your head, reaching your hands up to your feet. Do this holding the pose for 5 to 10 breaths on each side. 5 to 10 minutes of inflight exercise every hour will make a difference. On some aircrafts you can actually roll out your yoga mat. I’ve done this on the 2nd level of a 747 on more than one occasion, doing a full 30-minute yoga routine. Of course let the flight attendant know. The best time to do this is when passengers are sleeping on a long flight. Find out which aircraft you will be on and what the layout is ahead of time, so you understand what is or isn’t possible.

9) If you’re a Business or First Class traveler, even with more leg room you should still make an effort to get up and stretch too, or stay in your seat and stretch if that is preferred. The bigger seats definitely make it easier to get into more interesting yoga poses. I’ve done some fun stuff in Business class! And you too can walk to the back of the aircraft, all the way through Economy, to get the blood flowing in your limbs.

10) wear comfortable clothes so you can move and stretch easily. Unless you know you’re going straight to a business meeting as soon as you land, there is no need for you to get all dressed up to fly.

Safe, happy and healthy travels!

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