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Marek Struszczyk

Co-Founder ManagerUp

Last modified: June 9th, 2023

Have you ever wondered about the downsides of flying? Flying can help managers conduct two meetings in a day in two different parts of the world. Flying for business trips is the best timesaving solution for all business purposes.

However, the adverse effects of flying on your health can disturb the health dynamics for you as well as your employee. Ensuring continued good health of an employee is what keeps the organization inching toward the top.

Obviously, you cannot avoid traveling, as it is a part of your job. Worry not; we have a few simple tips for you on how to stay healthy on a plane. These tips are as simple as looking after what you eat and wear while traveling.

Learn how to stay healthy on a plane, and fly high in the corporate world. CLICK TO TWEET

1. The Risks of Flying

The three biggest factors that make flying unhealthy are the constant sitting, the unhealthy airplane food, and dehydration.

Many flyers never stop to think about how these things have an impact on health. Usually, we are either just trying to get through the flight as quickly as possible or are on our laptop or tablet, trying to finish off some last-minute crucial work.

Simply by being aware of the risks and making some minor changes to our behavior, we learn how to stay healthy on a plane. We can effectively eliminate the dangers to our health while flying.

We’re looking at a few of the big issues in this article, but  there are some other risks to consider  as well.

1.1. Sitting Is Bad for You

Is sitting the new smoking? Current health research data supports this claim. Sitting is something we all do too much of, and has an overall negative impact on our health.

The human body is designed for work and to be standing. Flying on a plane in the cramped seats with little legroom can be just bad or even worse for our back, metabolism, and muscles.

There is no airline equivalent of the “standing desk” yet, so savvy flyers will need to make an effort not to be stuck sitting the entire time.

1.2. Airplane Food Really Is Bad

It’s 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 tastes different due to the additives/extra sugar and salt in it. 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 are in business or first class, you might find that the food is less enjoyable due to this.

1.3. Dehydration

You might have noticed that 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 much faster than on land.

2. Tips to Stay Healthy While Flying

Knowing how to stay healthy on a plane can help you prevent and manage the side effects of flying. Following these tips will help you overcome all the hindrances that may otherwise affect your work and, thereby, your organization.

2.1. Wear Comfortable Clothing

Wear loose-fitting cotton clothes, and avoid synthetic garments. Wear outfits that cover your entire body and closed footwear, like shoes, to avoid getting cold. Prevent sneezes and runny nose during your business meeting at your destination.

2.2. Choose the Right Seat

If possible, choose an aisle seat. An aisle seat makes it easier to move around intermittently during your flight. In addition to preventing cramps, it reduces the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in which blood clot formation occurs in the large veins of legs.

In long flights, choose a seat close to the window to control light exposure. The exposure to the sunlight or darkness can be beneficial for regulating the melatonin levels and supporting the circadian rhythm.

The exposure to bright sunlight can shut down your melatonin production, thus allowing you to feel more alert and energized.

Executives who want to experience sound sleep should keep away from light. Blocking the lights from the windows can help you promote your melatonin production.

2.3. Drink Plenty of Water

One of the best things you can do for your health while traveling is drinking lots of water. As the air in the plane is excessively dry, your body gets dehydrated faster. Dehydration has all kinds of negative effects on your body and mind. Drinking alcohol to try to relax does not make it any better. Ensure that you drink plenty of fluids while flying to keep you sufficiently hydrated.

Drinking water helps the brain perform at its peak, eliminating brain fog and grogginess. Hydrating the body helps energize it to achieve the day’s tasks.


2.4. Avoid Mental Exhaustion

Mentally, flying can be exhausting. You are traveling for a meeting that can lead to the growth of the business. Therefore, avoid any tasks that may cause mental fatigue and affect your output at the meeting. Plan your time wisely and utilize it appropriately.

If you have a plan that involves some work and some other engaging activities, the flight will be over before you know it. These activities could be listening to a new album, playing a game on your phone or tablet or reading a great book.

2.5. Use Glasses Instead of Contact Lenses

Opt for glasses during the flight so that you can remove them whenever you want to sleep. Contact lenses will not allow you to sleep a wink during the entire journey. Using contact lenses can hamper your efficiency and productivity after reaching your work destination.

You can always put in contact lenses once you reach your destination.

2.6.Perform Gentle Yoga Stretches

Sitting for a long time affects your muscles. Perform gentle yoga stretches and pranayama breathing on your seat to stretch your arms and legs and expand your chest.

When possible, extend your legs and point your toes toward your knees. This will keep your leg muscles from cramping due to 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.

These stretches will help you avoid muscle aches and keep you active during your business flight. Just because you are sitting doesn’t mean you can’t stretch your muscles! You can use these wonderful techniques to keep healthy when you are at your office as well.


2.7. Walk

Sitting for a long time without moving increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis. Take frequent breaks from sitting and move around. Some of your movement is going to be limited by seatbelt signs and flight attendant directions.

However, you can still manage to get up and move around a bit. Try not to sit for more than 50 minutes at a time. Stand up and move to increase blood circulation in your body, especially the legs, and prevent deep vein thrombosis and cramps. Walking is good for your muscles, joints and your mind, too.

2.8. Use Compression Socks

Compression socks are useful in preventing deep vein thrombosis, aches, and pains in the legs, leg cramps, and swelling due to insufficient physical movements while flying.

2.9. Don’t Forget Medications

As an executive, you cannot lose focus on your work at any point in time. You have to make sure that you do not face any health issues during your business tour. If you take any medications, carry them in enough quantity to last through your journey. You can also carry some extra medicine in case your trip is extended.

A prescription of medicines just in case you need additional medications at your destination is another precautionary measure. Prevent any hurdles in the path of your work. This will ensure that you are in good health and your sole focus is your work.

2.10. Keep Your Hands Clean

Keeping your hands clean is essential irrespective of whether you are at home, office, or traveling. It might seem a minor thing but can lead to numerous infectious diseases. Some of these diseases can be gastrointestinal problems and respiratory infections, ultimately affecting your work.

Wash your hands or use a sanitizer and kill the germs before they attack you and, thereby, your work.

2.11. Keep Your Immune System Strong

Reaching the top is not easy; you need to overcome all the hurdles to fly high. Diseases and health issues are some of the common issues we face while achieving this goal. As an executive, you need to travel a lot, and you are exposed to innumerable germs on the seat and in the washroom.

You cannot avoid germs, but you can keep your immunity boosted for such days so that your body is able to tackle them. Be diligent in getting the vaccines advised for your destination.

Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid smoking. Incorporate all the healthy habits in your routine to boost your immunity.

2.12. Use Neck Cushions

Sleeping in an upright position can cause neck cramps. This situation will make you uncomfortable during your hours in the plane, and worse, dampen your mojo in your meetings. You can use neck cushions to give support to your neck and ensure that you do not suffer from neck stiffness.

According to many studies, neck pillows help you sleep in an upright position without any discomfort.

Have a Look at This Neck Pillow Specially Designed for Executives Who Travel on a Regular Basis.


2.13. Turn on Air Vents

You would think that turning on the air vents will only improve ventilation, but that’s not it.

There is a scientific explanation for its positive effect on your health. The low humidity on the plane causes drying of your mucous membranes, and you become more susceptible to microbial infections. Turning on air vents creates an air barrier between you and the microorganisms. It throws the microbes away from you due to the air turbulence, thus exposing you to fewer microorganisms.

2.14. Sleep Well with Eye Masks

Your body uses sleep time to repair damaged cells and refreshes your mind. Deep sleep can improve your decision-making skills and your creativity at work. Eye masks can help you go into the deep sleep stage by creating darkness even in the brightest daylight. These masks can also improve the disrupted circadian rhythm and help fight jet lag.

Use an Eye Mask and Wake Up Feeling Refreshed, Now!


2.15.Cancel out Noises with Earplugs

The change in altitude causes an imbalance in the air pressure in your ears. It leads to moderate discomfort, stuffiness, pain in the ears, and mild-to-moderate hearing loss.

Earplugs can help you prevent this as well as aid in sleeping without getting disturbed by the noisy surroundings.

2.16. Reduce Nausea

If you experience nausea during the flight, avoiding heavy meals and alcohol on the flight are the best solutions. If you have motion sickness, you can take an anti-emetic medicine before boarding the flight.

2.17. Sleep on the Flight

If you have difficulty sleeping and even earplugs or sleep masks cannot help you sleep, try melatonin supplements to help you sleep. Do not opt for sleeping pills.

Find Out How to Take Melatonin for a Deep Sleep During Your Business Trips!


2.18. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol

Alcohol causes dehydration either by inhibiting the release of hormones that maintain the fluid balance in the body or by causing diuresis.

Although the exact mechanism is unknown, caffeine is another agent known to induce fluid loss. Caffeine affects the circadian rhythm and has a disruptive effect on your sleep, reducing your sleep time. Also, caffeine consumption during business trips can enhance the cumulative stress response.

Therefore, avoiding caffeine and alcoholic drinks can help you crack the business deal by maintaining a healthy sleep cycle with the right fluid balance in your body.


2.19. Stay Away From the Artificial Blue Light

Artificial blue light is the light emitted by smartphones, laptops, and tablets. This light can disrupt your natural sleep-wake cycle by creating an impression of daytime during the night.

The artificial light from these gadgets enters the eyes, which, in turn, sends signals to the brain. As a result, your mind believes that it is still the daytime, which prompts it to lower the melatonin production. It disrupts your sleep and keeps you awake in the bargain.

You should take care to avoid gadgets that emit blue light while flying so that you can experience sound sleep.

2.20. Eat Before Boarding

Regardless of whether you are traveling by business class or first class, eat before boarding. It is the best solution to your hunger and has no adverse effects on your health. None of the options you will have on long flights for food is going to be very good for you. Also, the taste of the food provided on a flight will never satisfy your taste buds since taste perception changes at high altitudes.

Eat something high in protein and low in carbohydrates before boarding. Most airports have some restaurants with healthy options. Choose easy-to-digest foods such as raw veggies and fish if you want to sleep on the plane. The extra protein will keep your metabolism pumped up and help you feel full for longer. Eggs, chicken, cheese, yogurt or almonds are healthy protein-rich foods.


2.21. Take Your Own Snacks on the Plane

You can eat some snacks and rest during your flight to enable you to work well after reaching your destination. The right snacks will help you feel energized, focused, and satisfied so that you do not turn to fast food on the plane.

Fruits, dried fruits, seeds, and nuts are healthy travel snacks that require minimal planning and preparation.


2.22. Consider Fasting on the Flight

Eating plane food is always a concern and you may need to travel frequently for your work. The best you can do is have food before boarding and fast on the flight.

In long flights, fasting helps you reset your internal body clock and adapt to the new time zone.

2.23. Relax and Enjoy the Flight

Managers, business executives, and entrepreneurs are considered some of the most stressed social groups. If you belong to one of these groups, the simplest tip is to chill and enjoy the journey. If you focus on the negative aspects of flying, the flight will only seem longer.

You can make use of the flight time to just mellow out on your seat and enjoy the flight before going back to work. Those who enjoy socializing often make new friends and even business contacts while flying.

So, if you have trouble figuring out how to stay healthy on a plane, chill and make your flight work to your advantage!

If you are health conscious and have always wondered how to stay healthy on a plane during all your business trips, the answers are listed above.

Just follow the simple tips stated above for plane journeys and cope successfully with the health risks on your way to the top! Flying doesn’t have to be an arduous health-destroying part of your job. Make the most of it and enjoy the flight!

Share your own travel strategies to stay healthy on a plane in the comments below.



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