10 Exercises You Can Do on an Airplane Without Looking Weird3 min read

The ever-shrinking space-per-person on modern airplanes can make air travel an uncomfortable ordeal. Longer, international flights may not only be uncomfortable for some passengers but also potentially life-threatening; when you’re stationary for a long period of time, you can develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT). When this happens, blood clots in your legs and other deep veins may break free and create serious health complications—even death.

Fortunately, there are simple exercises you can do to stay healthy and happy on a plane. And the best part is, you can do them in your seat or in the aisle, generally without garnering any looks from your fellow travelers. Try these 10 movements on your next flight to keep your body in tip-top shape.

Neck Rolls

While sitting in your seat, slowly drop your chin to your chest. Rotate your head five times in a counterclockwise motion. Then repeat in the opposite direction. For an additional neck stretch, place your left hand on the top of your head and gently pull to the left. Repeat on the right side.

Shoulder Rolls

Sit in a relaxed position with your arms at your side. Slowly roll your shoulders forward five times. Reverse the motion and repeat five additional times.

Shoulder Stretch

While standing in the aisle, interlace your fingers behind your back. Bend forward slightly and lift your arms up as high as you can. Repeat five times.

Forward Bends

For this exercise, choose a time when the seatbelt sign is off so you can remove your belt. While sitting, suck your stomach in as far as it will go. Lean forward slowly and extend your arms all the way to the floor. Slowly roll back up to a sitting position. Repeat five times.

Calf Raises

Place your legs at a 90-degree angle while sitting in your seat. Raise your heels off the floor until you are on the tips of your toes. For added resistance, do this same exercise while standing and holding on to the bulkhead or two seats. Repeat 10 times.

Toe Raises

This is the opposite of calf raises. Keep your heels on the floor and raise your toes as high as possible. For an added range of motion, remove your shoes.

Ankle Rolls

While sitting, lift your feet off the ground. Rotate your feet at the ankles in a counterclockwise motion. Repeat 10 times, then reverse the direction.

Quad Stretches

While standing and holding on to a seat with your right hand, bend your left knee, grab your ankle and pull it up behind your back. Do this gently so you don’t overstretch your quadriceps muscle. Reverse the position and repeat with your right leg.

Squats in the Restroom

Because squats in the aisle might look weird, do this one in the airplane restroom (put the toilet lid down first). Face the door and bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then stand up. Repeat 10 times.


When the seatbelt sign is off, take the opportunity to walk around the cabin every few hours at a minimum. This will ensure that your blood circulates normally and you’re not at risk for DVT.

Added tip: For long international flights, wearing graduated compression socks is another great strategy. These specially designed socks are tight at the ankles and slightly looser on the calves. Wearing compression socks helps to push blood up your legs to counteract swelling and pooling.


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