Feeling Fit during the Flight and Afterward
Air travel can play havoc on your energy and well-being. You can minimize such distress by following a few simple procedures.
- Pressure builds up in the ears during takeoff and landing. Ease it by swallowing often and pinching your nostrils shut, then gently blowing against them until you feel relief in your eardrums. Chewing gum may also help.
- "Economy-class syndrome" is a medically recognized complaint caused by cramped leg room and dehydration, which inhibit blood flow. Ask your doctor about taking one aspirin to thin your blood. Limit smoking before boarding, and try to move and stretch as much as possible during the flight. Dehydration is countered by increasing your consumption of liquids before the flight. Drink at least eight ounces of water or juice per hour of flight time. Limit consumption of alcohol and caffeine; both are diuretics. Carry a small plastic atomizer of water to mist your skin.
- Crowded, closed cabins harbor germs. Breathe through your nose rather than your mouth to purify the air you take into your lungs.
- Airline pillows and blankets are almost guaranteed germ carriers. Airlines may change them every 24 hours, not after every flight. If you need a pillow, consider carrying a small, inflatable one. Try to keep warm with a coat or jacket rather than covering yourself with a germ-infested blanket.
- Slip off your shoes, and elevate your feet if possible. Putting a small pillow behind the small of your back can make you more comfortable. Ease the tension and muscle tightness resulting from sitting too long in one position by rotating your head, shrugging your shoulders, and shaking out your hands. Relax your legs by pointing and flexing your feet and spreading your toes.
- Jet lag is your body's reaction to the disruption of its 24-hour cycle coupled with the demands placed on your body by lengthy flights. It's more common on eastbound flights. Every frequent international flyer has a cure to recommend, including wearing battery-operated visors, said to send the proper, balancing light into the retina. Jet lag is like a hangover or the common cold: There is no cure, but there are some things you can do to ease the symptoms:
- Set your watch to your destination's time as soon as you take your seat. Adapt your flight behavior to the time of day where you're scheduled to arrive. If you are arriving in the morning, relax and rest as much as you can during the flight. Try to stay awake if you will be arriving at night. Deep breathing can replace some of the oxygen deprivation that occurs from lowered cabin pressure.
- Melatonin, a hormone, is reputed to lessen the symptoms of jet lag by as much as 50%. Synthetic melatonin is available in health food stores. It is not recommended for pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, couples trying to conceive, or people with autoimmune diseases.
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