The Essential Guide For Good Health
While Flying

By Barry Lawrence

For many people, the thought of enduring a long haul flight to a faraway destination is sure to conjure up instant feelings of dread - no matter how exotic or exciting the destination may be!

No one likes to be confined into an often crammed metal box for hours on end, breathing in recycled air that is so dry you might as well be in the Sahara desert. Not to mention the increased risks of picking up germs and infections while inside the cabin. When flying, you'll want to do everything you can to look after your health so you can arrive at your destination in the same top condition which you entered the plane.

Here are five essential ways to protect your health while flying:

1. Be active
The body was not designed to be inactive over very long periods of time. Sometimes prolonged inactivity and impaired circulation can lead to blood stagnating in the veins - commonly in those in the legs - and the risk of developing blood clots. These clots can then prove fatal if they travel to the lungs or other vital areas. The name for this condition is called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and passengers flying on long haul flights are at risk of developing DVT because they may be sitting on their plane seat for very long amounts of time without the need to move.

Some people are more at risk of developing DVT than others - e.g., women who are pregnant, people aged over 40 or those with a family history of thrombosis. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your risks.

Today, most doctors advise passengers to undertake simple exercises while flying to keep their leg muscles moving which prevents blood from stagnating in the veins. Suggestions such as tapping your feet every so often, getting up and walking around the cabin at regular intervals, and stretching and flexing the leg muscles while sitting are recommended. Keeping your legs elevated while sitting, taking aspirin to thin the blood, or wearing compression stockings are also ways to help avoid DVT.

Being active and taking walks around the plane while flying will also help you avoid stiffness and aches associated with sitting for long amounts of time.

2. Keep hydrated
Humidity levels in a plane cabin can be very low. This drying effect makes it easy for the body to become very quickly dehydrated. Drink plenty of glasses of water or juice to help counteract this effect. Remember, being dehydrated won't just make you feel uncomfortable, it will affect how your body functions, including how resilient your immune system is. Avoid drinks which have a diuretic effect like tea, coffee and alcohol. To keep your skin hydrated, pop a moisturizer and lip balm into your flight bag.

3. Boost your immune system
Before you set foot on the plane, do what you can to boost your immune system so it's in the best condition to protect your health while flying. Stress can weaken how the immune system functions so do what you can to avoid it. Try and make the packing and airport process as smooth as possible by being organized. Make sure you get plenty of rest before the flight, too. Consider taking immunity-boosting supplements like Vitamin C and Echinacea and limit your intake of junk food before and during the flight - sugary and fatty foods may work to slow down and hamper your immune system.

4. Avoid germs
You can be sure there are plenty of germs you'll want to avoid on your plane ride. Travelers from all over the world may carry a whole range of viruses and diseases with them. Sitting in close proximity to other people and having to breathe in recycled air is a likely environment for germs to spread easily. You can take steps to minimize your exposure to germs. When leaving the bathroom, wash your hands properly, using warm water and soap and scrubbing well. Perhaps use a paper towel to open the door since not everyone using it will always wash their hands. Carry hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes with you. Use them to clean items like the tray table or armrest that have been touched by many people before you. And keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes to prevent germs from entering your system in the event you picked some up while touching something.

5. Take care of your back
Seats on the plane aren't always the most comfortable or supportive to the back. When you are facing prolonged periods of sitting, you'll put your back at risk of injury, strain or discomfort if you do not sit correctly. Many plane seats encourage bad posture which puts unhealthy strain on the back. Or if you have existing back problems, they may be exacerbated because of the lengthy amounts of sitting required. Invest in a portable back support for your plane seat. Even if you've never had back problems before, take care of your spine while flying and you could prevent a range of unwanted back problems from developing in the future.

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