5 ways to stay active when travelling
Are you heading off overseas this holiday season? Here’s a few tips to help you stay active while travelling for long periods.
Tip #1 – At the airport, walk instead of taking the travelator
Walking is the perfect way to prepare the body for some extended sitting and ensures that the lungs and blood vessels get a chance to expand and take up some fresh air! Walking with your luggage can also add a core stability challenge and overall, burns more energy than standing on the moving belt.
Tip # 2 – Take every opportunity to be active
The best way to see a new place is to walk it. If possible, avoid public transport and walk instead! Be sure to pack a good pair of walking shoes that will see you comfortably on your adventure. Whenever possible take the stairs instead of using the elevator and if your hotel has a gym or pool then use it at least once during your stay!
Tip # 3 – Avoid sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time on the plane
Sitting for more than 30 minutes switches off key fat burning enzymes in your body – think about your computer going into ‘sleep’ mode – it’s no longer ready for action! Wherever possible, break up your sitting by taking a walk around the cabin, to the bathroom, or just ensuring that your ankles are staying active to avoid swelling and discomfort later.
If you’re stuck in the middle seat, try the following seated muscular activations to expend energy, promote circulation and benefit from the muscular relaxation afterwards. Each one should be held for 5 seconds, then relaxed for 5 seconds, and repeated.
- Hold a seated calf raise (press your tip toes into the floor of the plane)
- Squeeze your glute muscles
- Dig one leg into the floor, as though you were trying to slide backwards in your chair
- Brace your core, as though you were trying to move your stomach away from the seatbelt
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together
- Shrug your shoulders up to your ears
Tip # 4 – Actively stretch your muscles in downtime
One of the main benefits of stretching is the increased blood flow it generates to muscles and lubrication of connective tissue. So, stretching regularly makes you suppler and, overtime, can increase the range of motion in your joints. If you have time before boarding your plane, cosy up at the gate with a piece of floor and do some gentle yin-style stretches. Here’s a few for you to try:
NECK: Sit comfortably. Raise your right arm up and over your head and take a hold of the outside of your head (on the left side). Ever so gently, pull your head towards your right shoulder, being sure to keep your left shoulder moving down away from your left ear. At the same time, press your sitting bones into the ground. Take about 10 deep breaths here and then, without changing anything, gently start to rock your head forward and back feeling into the stretch as you move. Inhale as your head moves up to centre, exhale as your head moves down, chin tracking towards your chest. Do this rocking motion for about 1 minute and then swap to the other side.
SHOULDERS: Sit comfortably. Roll your shoulders forward and backwards a few times. Open up your arms and then swing them back together, placing your right arm under your left. Wrap your arms around each other as much as you can, with your right fingers placed into your left palm. Start to round your shoulders and press your forearms away from you keeping your elbows lifted. Hold this for about a minute breathing slowly and deeply, then repeat on the other side.
SIDE BEND: Sit comfortably. Raise your arms above your head, first allow your right arm to move over to your right, bending your right elbow so your forearm moves towards the ground – at the same time actively stretch your left arm up and over towards the right. This will stretch your left-hand side and compress your right-hand side waist. Make sure your top shoulder doesn’t roll forward and keep pointing your ribs up the sky while pressing your sitting bones into the floor. Hold both sides for about one minute, breathing slowly and deeply.
LEGS AND BACK BODY: Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front you. Flex your toes towards your face so that your legs are nice and active. Bend your knees as much as you need. With your arms raised above your head, press through your sitting bones so your spine extends. Do this as you inhale and as you exhale move forward with your chest and hinge forward at your pelvis (the bones lower than your hips) into a forward fold so your forehead moves towards your shins. Allow your arms to fall wherever they fall (remember, it’s not about touching your toes) and hold this for about 3-4 minutes breathing slowly and deeply. Slowly round up allowing your head to be the last thing to come up.
Breathing slowly and deeply into your belly while you’re stretching will also help to oxygenate your blood and lubricate your connective tissues, muscles and organs. It will also make you feel nice and calm for the long flight ahead.
Tip # 5 – Pack a spikey ball on your travels
Spikey massage balls work to release tension in our body’s myo-fascial system by reducing tension in muscles and improving the flow of blood.
They’re also a great way to bring awareness back to your body when you’ve been sitting for a really long time on a plane, enthralled in the latest blockbuster hits showing on the in-flight entertainment system.
They’re so compact that you can store one in your carry-on luggage so when you’re at the airport waiting for your next flight or when you arrive at your hotel – spend some time with the ball up against a wall rolling into the fascia on the back of your body. Better yet, you can buy one at Upwell for just $20. So be sure to grab one when you’re next in the centre! They also make great stocking fillers!
Start just above your shoulders at the base of the neck and slowly work down your body being careful to stay away from applying direct pleasure to your spine. Spend a lot of time on the area between your shoulder blades and your lower back as these are the areas where you tend to hold most of your tension.
Once you’ve worked on your back turn to face the wall and roll the ball into the pectoral muscles (the area between the head of your shoulders and your chest).
Roll for about 10 minutes and then stand tall and notice how your body feels. Notice sensations occurring as a result of new and fresh blood moving to those areas.