I am a full-time traveling registered nurse, fitness enthusiast, and nutrition expert. Every morning I wake up intending to bring awareness of the importance of health and spiritual wellness, especially to the traveling community. At Messy Bun Traveler, we promote travel that allows the traveler to either kick-start, maintain, or enhance a healthy lifestyle. So whether you're someone who travels for business, travels for pleasure, or new to travel and looking for health advice while on the road, this blog is for you!
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If you’re like most people, the idea of flying post-pandemic is both exciting and a little bit nerve-wracking. While air travel is a great way to get around, it can also be tough on your health.
As a responsible traveler, you get to the airport at the airline’s recommended time frame- 2 hours for domestic or 3 hours for international. To your pleasant surprise, you zipped through check-in and TSA security with now plenty of time to spare!
What do you do?
I used to, like most of us, head to the bar and restaurant closest to my gate and slam as many beers and jalapeno poppers as I could.
Then, right before boarding the flight, I would head to the souvenir shop and buy as many salty, sugary, processed snacks as my carry-on bag would allow.
After all, with being tens of thousands of feet in the air, I could possibly starve if I didn’t have enough snacks!
Sounds healthy, right?
Similarly, let’s say you’ve just disembarked your first stopover and now have an incredibly long layover before your next flight. You’ve got about six hours to kill. What do you do?
I can think of a long list of unhealthy things I used to do when I was a younger traveler. This included sitting in an airport chair for hours on end fumbling on my phone, sitting in an airport bar, buying and eating snacks when I wasn’t even hungry- the list can go on and on.
It’s an interesting phenomenon – the airport. It’s one of the few places on earth where it’s socially acceptable to order alcohol and bar food at 9 in the morning.
The good news is that airports are slowly beginning to get on board with fitness and health trends. It’s much easier to find healthier food options in airports now, including fresh salads, fresh produce, and organic alternatives from local farms. Yoga rooms and walking tracks are also becoming more prevalent as well for those travelers that want to get in a quick workout before their flight.
This is a relatively new concept. But as fitness trends have been increasing in both national and international travel, we’re beginning to see airports participate as well. Airports have added yoga rooms and walking tracks at various locations in the United States.
Currently, the Baltimore Washington International Airport is the only United States airport that has a gym past the security line. According to Roam Fitness, the business behind the new, up-and-coming airport gyms, “plan to open two more domestic locations in 2019 and hope to have 20 locations open within five years, including internationally.”
Roam Fitness plans always to be located behind security to save time for passengers to get a quick workout in, and then make it to their gate on time.
Until then, there are plenty of national and international airports that have gyms located just outside the security lines or just right outside the airport.
Some include the yoga rooms at the San Francisco International Airport (these are becoming extremely popular as well- and more are set to open in the near future), the Hilton Health Club, and Yoga Room at O’Hare International Airport. If you find yourself in Dubai, you can hit up the G-Force Health Club at the Dubai International Airport.
If you find yourself stuck in an airport for a few hours and need to kill some time, check out the airportgyms.com website to see if there’s a gym in or near your airport.
While you’re navigating through the airport trying to find your gate, opt to take the stairs. This is an easy way to get some exercise and get your steps in for the day. Extra brownie points if you’re carrying your luggage!
Instead of sitting around bored out of your freakin’ mind, take a little stroll through the terminal. This will help you get your steps in, get your blood pumping, and get some oxygen to your brain before your long-haul flight.
Just think you’re going to be sitting for hours on your flight with nowhere to go- WHY would you want to spend your hours in the airport sitting as well? Get your body moving, so you don’t feel so antsy while on the flight. Getting some movement in will help keep you healthy at the airport.
If you do decide to eat something at the airport, stick to healthy choices, and don’t be afraid to be picky when ordering food at a restaurant. Here are some helpful tips for sticking to when you’re purchasing food in an airport:
If you want to grab some healthy travel snacks before boarding your plane, try to stick to high protein and low carb single-serving snacks. Healthy airport snack options include:
Another way how to stay healthy when flying a lot is to stay well hydrated. I know it’s hard, but “stress eating” or “bored eating” is a real thing a lot of us (including me) suffer from—especially when waiting for flights.
Ask yourself, “am I really hungry, or am I just bored?” most of the time, the answer is just going to be boredom. Instead, hydrate with some ice-cold water. It’s very common to mistake thirst for hunger.
If you have time to spare before your flight, it’s a good idea to get some stretching in before sitting on a cramped plane for hours. Sitting for long periods can lead to quite a bit of pain and discomfort in your neck, shoulders, back, and even legs.
Stretching helps keep your legs loose and increases blood and oxygen supply. It also will reduce the risk of swelling and blood clot formation.
A couple of drinks here and there is okay to help you relax, but don’t go overboard. Not only does alcohol have a lot of calories, it also disturbs your in-flight sleep. This may keep you from getting adequate rest on the plane.
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it surprises me how many people don’t know to do this when coming to the airport. Bringing an empty water bottle will not only help you save money by not buying ridiculously over-priced water, but you’ll also help the environment too.
Bringing an empty water bottle and filling it up once you get through security will keep you hydrated before, during, and after your flight. Most airports these days have a water-filling station as well. So how to stay healthy when flying? Stay hydrated!
Plenty of airports across the U.S. and the world have wellness spas and massage parlors in airport terminals. Studies have shown that if you get a massage before beginning your travels, your muscles will be loosened. This will lessen muscle tension while sitting on a plane for hours.
Having a massage will increase circulation. This makes the tiny leg and arm space in your seat a little easier to manage.
Flying a lot for work or pleasure can be taxing on the body. However, with a few simple tips and some healthy choices, you can make flying a little healthier and help your immune system stay strong.
Airports are becoming more health-conscious, with many options for eating well and staying active. So before your next flight, check out the airport’s website to see what kinds of healthy activities and food options are available. And if you’re feeling stressed or need a break from the crowds, don’t forget to visit the airport spa!
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