How to Stay Healthy on Long Flights

How to Stay Healthy on Long Flights

air-passengers2Long flights, coupled with layovers and delays can often be the most taxing part of travelling. There’s nothing worse than having to take a day of recovery upon arrival just because of an exhausting flight itinerary.

To figure out how to stay healthy on long flights, I asked Dr. Melanie Lopes to share some of her wisdom. Here are four of her expert tips:

Choose your Seat Ahead of Time

To ensure you are well-rested by the time you arrive at your destination, consider choosing a window seat so you can lean against the window to sleep.  By choosing a window seat, you can also control how much sunlight enters your area, which can be helpful when trying to fall asleep. If you are a taller individual, it might be wise to choose an aisle seat, or even better: an  emergency exit seat to provide more leg room.  The additional space in this  seating area can help prevent any cramping or soreness in your legs.

Travel Pillows are an Essential Carry-On Itemneck pillow

I would highly recommend packing a travel pillow in your carry-on luggage for lengthy bus and car rides, and especially for long flights.  The purpose of a travel pillow is to support your neck, in order to prevent it from falling into awkward sleeping postures, which will eventually lead to uncomfortable kinks.

Travel pillow styles will depend on the type of travel that you have planned. Embarking on a backpacking trip might warrant an inflatable travel pillow, which will reduce the amount of occupied space in your backpack.  In contrast, you might want to splurge on a comfortably plush pillow for a slower-paced, all-inclusive trip. It’s best that you test the pillow in the store to assess it’s firmness. You want to ensure that the pillow is firm enough to support the natural curve of your neck, but not too firm that it limits the movement of your neck.

Motion is Lotion

I always remind my patients that it’s important to keep moving, whether you are seated at work, or on a long car, bus or plane ride.  By keeping your joints moving and using your muscles, you can help prevent the onset of stiffness and soreness that tends to occur after hours of sitting. Additionally, immobility can increase the risk of swollen ankles, and a possible development of deep vein thrombosis (aka: blood clot) in the legs.  By moving around, you can help improve your blood circulation.

I would recommend trying to stretch and move at least once every hour.  

If you’re stuck in the middle seat, don’t fret!  You can do some stretches in your seat, working from your head down to your legs:


camel stretch

  • Start by rotating your head in circles in both directions
  • Shrug your shoulders up and down 5 times
  • Round your upper back like a camel and bring your arms in front to stretch out the area in between your shoulder blades.
  • Grab onto your seat’s left armrest and twist your upper body to the left to feel a good stretch in your low back, and then do the same to the right.
  • Clench your butt muscles, hold it for 3 seconds and then release.  Repeat 5 times.
  • Bend and straighten your knees
  • Point your toes up to the ceiling and then down to the floor, repeat 10 times for each foot.
  • Trace out the alphabet (in capital letters) with your feet from A-Z to help promote good blood circulation.

If you are able to get out of your seat, walk up and down the length of the plane and try to stretch, as noted above.

Keep Hydrated

It’s important to stay hydrated with water before, during and after a flight.  With low humidity and pressurized watercabins, you can feel very dehydrated. Low humidity can also put you at risk for catching a respiratory virus. Bring an empty water container in your carry on, and fill it up once you pass security.  You can then sip on some water throughout the flight. Try to avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, as they can prevent you from sleeping and also increase the likelihood of becoming dehydrated.

Try these helpful tips to stay healthy on long flights and arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and ready to start your new adventure.

Happy travelling!


Sports Chiropractor  chiropractor

Dr. Lopes is a Sports Chiropractor in the Davisville area of Toronto.  She works in conjunction with her RMT to treat a wide spectrum of patients from babies to senior citizens and everyone in between. Dr. Lopes’ other passions include salsa dancing, travelling the world, keeping fit at the gym and photography.

You can find out more info on her site:

Or on Facebook:



Images: [water bottle] [stretches] [travel pillow] [airplane cabin]

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Food allergies are not only a nuisance, but also a serious health risk. I’ve had a severe peanutpeanut allergy since childhood, and it has created many obstacles throughout my years of travelling. Eating in a foreign country can be quite risky with a severe food allergy. Through my travel experience, however, I have learned that there are ways to be prepared and stay safe while consuming food abroad.

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Stay Fit and live the GoodLife on your Travels!

Goodlife Fitness PearsonAs an athlete and traveller, I hate feeling lethargic when I disembark from a plane. Whether it’s being sandwiched between two strangers in the middle seat of a twenty-one hour flight from Sydney to Toronto, or when I so brilliantly decided to do a thirty-two hour journey from Bangkok to Toronto via Shanghai and Paris, these are both two instances when I could have used a little bit of exercise. Not only did I drag myself off the airplane, but I continued to shuffle my way directly to the lounge, where I instinctively plopped myself down in a seat to kill the layover time.

Enter the brilliant idea of having a fitness club in the airport, and what better way to do it than to have Canada’s leading fitness club partner with Canada’s largest and busiest airport!

GoodLife Execs at Grand Opening - David Patchell-Evans (Founder & CEO), Mr. Darryl Sittler
GoodLife Execs at Grand Opening – David Patchell-Evans (Founder & CEO), Mr. Darryl Sittler

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the Grand Opening of the GoodLife Fitness Club at Pearson International Airport. Located on the Arrivals level of Terminal 1, the GoodLife club livens up the space that was once bare.

Cardiovascular Equipment
Cardiovascular Equipment

The gym is equipped with state of the art cardio equipment, both machine and free weights, as well as yoga stations with medicine and stability balls.







Yoga & Core Stability area
Yoga & Core Stability area






Change Room
Change Room

The change rooms are stylishly modern and equipped with all the bells and whistles for any passenger: spacious showers, hair dryers, large mirrors and counter space, an ironing board, private changing rooms, TVs, and my favourite – keypad entry lockers to ensure security and convenience.

After being wowed by the gym and the change room, I began to make my way out when I was lured by the massage chairs. These cutting-edge massage chairs are a fantastic way to increase blood circulation and provide relaxation – two elements that are essential to a good flight.

Keeping the traveller in mind, guests are provided with complimentary luggage storage. Day passes for club entrance are $15, and GoodLife FitPlus members are granted access with their membership.

The GoodLife-Pearson partnership has not only introduced an enhanced travel experience for passengers, but has also created a superb opportunity for the 40,000 Pearson employees to get healthy and fit in their workplace. I can’t wait for my first pre-departure workout…perhaps I should book a trip now so I can try it out!