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Commercials and movies like to give us a specific image of the business traveler; they’re slim, professionally-dressed, bright-eyed go-getters who gingerly type on their laptop while flashing some pearly whites. The reality – as you’ve most likely observed – is somewhat different. Business travelers often look weary, unhealthy or even sick. They’re irritable and ready to snap at the slightest inconvenience. Why is this?

You don’t have to stop flying to avoid these dangers. By following these seven simple tips, you can avoid some of the risks that can impact frequent flyers.

healthy flying

The Risks of Flying

Three of the biggest factors that make flying unhealthy is the constant sitting, the unhealthy airplane food and dehydration. Many flyers never stop to think about how these things impact them. Normally, we are either just trying to get through the flight as quickly as possible or absorbed in laptops or tablets. Simply by being aware of the risks, you can make some minor changes that can effectively eliminate these dangers on your next flight. We’re looking at a few of the big issues in this article, but  there are some other risks to consider  as well.

Sitting Is Bad For You

Is sitting the new smoking? I think so. Sitting is something we all do too much of that has an overall negative impact on your health. The human body is designed for work and to be standing, and just as sitting at your desk is bad for your back, metabolism and muscles, flying on a plane can be even worse than sitting at the desk. There’s no airline equivalent of the “standing desk” yet, so savy flyers will need to make an effort not to be stuck sitting the entire time.

Airplane Food Really Is Bad

Its not just a tired stand-up comedy routine to knock airplane food. It’s genuinely bad for you.  Research has shown  that airline food is bad for some commercial reasons. Since the change in air pressure causes your taste buds to react differently to food, most of the items the airline serves have extra sugar and extra salt. Even if you’re in business or first class, you might find that the food is less enjoyable due to this.


You might have noticed you tend to get thirsty while flying. Being on a plane is like sitting in front of an air conditioning vent for several hours. The air is dry and recycled, which leads to dehydration. Dehydration has all kinds of negative effects on your body and mind, and drinking alcohol to try to relax does not make it any better.

7 Tips for  Healthy Flying

By following these tips, you can minimize or completely eliminate some of the risks highlighted above.

1. Stand Up and Move

Just like you’re told at work, take frequent breaks from sitting and move around. It is good for your muscles, joints and your mind. Try not to sit for more than 50 minutes. While some of your movement is going to be limited by seatbelt signs and flight attendant directions, you can still manage to get up and move around a bit.

2. Move While Sitting

Just because you’re sitting doesn’t mean you can’t stretch your muscles. When possible, extend your legs and point your feet towards your knees, this will keep your leg muscles from tensing up from staying in the same position. You can also stretch your back by reaching upward and – if possible – expand your chest by stretching your arms out to the sides as well. Keeping your joints nimble even while sitting can help you avoid back problems and cramping muscles and  deep vein thrombosis.

3. Eat Before Boarding

None of the options you’ll have on long flights for food are going to be very good for you. Pick up something high in protein and low in carbohydrates before boarding. Most airports have some restaurants with healthy options. Extra protein will keep your metabolism pumped up and help you feel full for longer. Doing this requires a little advance planning,  this article has some handy tips for prepping before you board the plain.

4. Stay Un-Thirsty!

One of the best things you can do for yourself while traveling is drink lots of water. Buy that gigantic bottle in the airport gift shop! It’s your best friend while traveling. As mentioned, the airplane air is dry and stale and flying already effects your sinuses. By staying hydrated you can keep your body functioning properly despite the environment.

5. Avoid mental exhaustion

Mentally, flying can be exhausting. Those who sit and do nothing might find that they’re more likely to mindlessly snack or drink too much. The time will fly by faster too if you have a plan for what to do. Don’t work the whole time either. If you have a plan which involves some work and some other mind-engaging activity such as listening to a new album, playing a game on your phone or tablet or reading a great book, the flight will be over before you know it.

6. Wear Glasses Instead of Contact Lenses

Having your contact lenses dry out while flying is not fun. Do yourself a favor and take your glasses on the flight. You can always put in contact lenses after. You can also remove your glasses to relieve a little stress and tension if you plan to nap during a long flight.

7. Stay Relaxed

Flying can be enjoyable. Not everyone has a job that picks up the tab to let them travel the world. Try to enjoy the little luxuries of the experience and focus on using the time wisely. If you focus on the negative aspect of flying, the flight will only seem longer. Those who enjoy socializing often make new friends and even business contacts while flying as well.

Flying doesn’t have to be an arduous health-destroying part of your job. Make the most of it and enjoy the flight! This is only the first of many tips we have to offer for the busy, traveling executive. There are plenty of other factors we will consider that won’t only make your flight easier, but increase your productivity and effectiveness in all aspect of business travel.

What other healthy flying strategies would you add to this list? Feel free to leave a comment!

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