Post-flight stretches and exercises to do in your hotel room
You don’t need to suffer from deep vein thrombosis to know that sitting on an airplane for hours is not the best for your body. And with coach class legroom getting tighter and planes getting fuller, stretching out is less of an option than ever. Even a midflight stroll down the aisle has its challenges.
To get the kinks out of your achy joints and the blood flowing after a long flight (and before a long day of meetings), it’s important to move your body and stretch. Fortunately, once you arrive at your hotel, you don’t have to venture to the gym or wake up early for a workout. There are plenty of stretches and exercise moves you can do in the comfort of your room, without gear and in limited space.
Here are 10 of my favorite in-room stretches and exercises to limber up after a long flight.
Leg Swings: With hands on your hips and one leg planted firmly, swing your other leg front and back freely like a pendulum. You can imagine you’re trying to give a soccer ball a good kick, if that helps, though it’s best to let the weight of your leg do the work for you. This really stretches out your hips and hamstrings, plus it’s a light cardio exercise to boot.
Core Twist/Arm Swings: Standing straight with arms at your side, twist your body at the waist from side to side, as if you’re turning to see a picture on the wall directly behind you. Let your arms swing freely as you turn, making sure not to twist beyond what’s comfortable. This is a great move for gently stretching your core and loosening up lower back muscles. In the Chinese practice of qigong, it’s believed that this movement also helps massage your organs.
Shoulder Circles: In a standing position (or sitting erect), move your shoulders in a circular motion — back, up, forward, down — for several revolutions. Then repeat the motion but in the opposite direction — forward, up, back, down. This move targets muscle tension in your shoulders and upper back. It’s the next best thing to a quick massage.
Standing Stretch: Standing with legs apart just beyond shoulder width, stretch your arms high in the air as if you’re reaching for the ceiling. With arms still extended above your head, slowly bend forward at the waist until your hands or fingertips reach the floor (depending on your flexibility). Hold the position for a few moments, and then slowly return to the ceiling-reach position.
Standing Side Stretch: This is similar to the above movement, starting with the same standing stance with legs apart and arms reaching for the sky. Instead of bending forward, slowly circle down to the left until your hands touch the floor. Then, circle up to the right until you’re standing in the original arms-raised pose. Reverse the movement, circling down to the right and up on the left side. This is a full body stretch, covering arms, legs, hips, and torso.
Leg Lifts: Lie flat on the floor on your back. With your arms at your side and keeping your knees straight, slowly lift your legs until they’re pointing toward the ceiling. At the same time, lift your head until your eyes are facing your knees. Then, slowly lower your legs and head to the floor. This is great for stretching out your back, leg, and neck muscles while strengthening your core.
Bicycle Crunch: Stand with your fingers touching your ears and your elbows cocked out to the side (like wings). With your fingers still against your ear, twist your right elbow down as you lift your left knee up, trying to bring them together in the middle. Repeat with your left elbow and right knee. This is a great move for working and stretching a range of muscles, such as your core, shoulders, back, hips, and glutes.
High Knees: With your arms held up at shoulder level and folded so fingertips touch the opposite elbow (like a traditional Russian dancer), kick your knees up — left, right, left, right — to try to reach your elbows. This is a really brisk movement, like high-impact running in place, so not only does it stretch out your thighs and glutes, but it’s also a great cardio exercise.
Squats: From a standing position, bend your knees as if you’re about to sit in a chair. Do this while your arms are held straight out in front of you, which helps keep your balance. You can also modify it for less strain by leaning against a wall and sliding your back down and back up.
Pushups: This one is self-explanatory, but it’s a great way to pump up your arm and chest muscles. For less strain, you can also modify your pushups and do them from your k