The Long-Haul Toll: Effects of Prolonged Sitting on International Flights

Whether you are a first-timer or a frequent traveler on an international flight, the troubles of prolonged sitting can impact either of you. If you are into sales or are a senior executive or a photographer per se, you are in travel mode all the time. Experienced travelers have their personalized list of do’s and don’ts. However, this article will help both kinds of travelers. You may have so many expectations about exploring new destinations, experiencing different cultures, and making cherished memories. Amid the thrill of long-haul travel, there's an often-overlooked aspect that can impact your well-being. In this article, we delve into the effects of sitting for long hours on international flights. And explore strategies to mitigate their potential toll on your body and mind.

Prolonged Sitting Can Create Muscle Stiffness and Discomfort

One of the most immediate effects of sitting for extended periods on a long international flight is muscle stiffness and discomfort. The confined space of an airplane seat in an economy class and the limited opportunity to move around can cause your muscles to tighten and become tense. The lack of movement can particularly affect muscles in the lower back, hips, and legs.

As hours go by, you might notice that getting up from your seat becomes a challenge. And even simple movements can feel awkward and strained. Then you may get weird co-passengers too who may not enjoy you getting up from your seat just to take a “walk”. To counteract this, try doing in-seat exercises that encourage blood circulation and alleviate muscle tension. Ankle circles, seated leg lifts, and gentle stretches can help keep your muscles limber and alleviate some of the discomfort.

Poor Blood Circulation Is An Integral Part Of Prolonged Sitting

Sitting for long hours can lead to poor blood circulation, especially in the lower extremities. This can result in swelling of the feet and ankles, a condition often referred to as "cankles." The reduced blood flow can also contribute to the formation of blood clots, a serious condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the legs. While the risk of DVT is relatively low, it's essential to take preventive measures, especially during long flights. Stay hydrated and avoid crossing your legs for extended periods. Perform ankle pumps regularly to encourage blood flow. Compression or flight socks are good for long-distance travel for improved blood circulation. 

Sitting For Long Hours Can Cause Joint Pain and Pressure 

Sitting in a cramped space for hours on end can lead to joint pain and pressure, particularly in the hips and knees. The limited legroom and the angle at which your legs are positioned can strain the joints and exacerbate any existing discomfort.

To alleviate joint pain, make an effort to change your sitting position occasionally. Shift your legs and adjust your posture to distribute pressure more evenly across your joints. In such a case, napEazy - Travel Pillow can be extremely useful. It is not a neck pillow but a full-body support pillow. The telescopic channel can extend or close and be set in a position that can comfort you. However, we also recommend that if possible, stand up and walk around the cabin when it's safe to do so, as this can help relieve joint stiffness.

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Digestive Discomfort As An Effect Of Prolonged Sitting

Long flights can also have an impact on your digestive system. Prolonged sitting can slow down digestion, leading to feelings of bloating and discomfort. Additionally, the cabin's pressurized environment can contribute to gas and indigestion.

To combat digestive discomfort, opt for light and easily digestible meals before and during the flight. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, as dehydration can exacerbate digestive issues. If you're prone to digestive discomfort, consider bringing along some herbal teas like ginger or peppermint, which can help soothe your stomach.

Sleep Disruption and Jet Lag Are The Aftermath Of Prolonged Sitting

While sitting for long hours may not directly cause sleep disruption, it can contribute to challenges related to adjusting to a new time zone. International flights often cross multiple time zones, leading to jet lag. The extended sitting time can affect your body's internal clock, making it harder to adapt to the new schedule.

To minimize the impact of jet lag, try to adjust your sleep schedule before the flight if possible. Stay hydrated and avoid caffeinated drinks. Expose yourself to natural light upon arrival to help reset your circadian rhythms. napEazy can help those who love to sleep during their journeys. Whether you are seated in the aisle, middle seat or even window seat, napEazy can provide you with the best comfort. You can use it as chin support, front support, side support or even back support particularly if sleep eludes you due to back pain. 

Multi-posture support by napEazy in an international flight - napeazy zone

Cabin Fever and Mental Fatigue

Beyond the physical effects, prolonged sitting on international flights can also take a toll on your mental well-being. The confined space, lack of fresh air, and limited opportunities for movement can lead to feelings of restlessness and cabin fever. Furthermore, the monotony of a long flight can contribute to mental fatigue and boredom.

To combat cabin fever and mental fatigue, engage in activities that stimulate your mind. Bring along a book, download movies or podcasts. You may use the in-flight entertainment system to stay engaged. Take breaks to stretch your legs and walk around the cabin. This can provide a welcome change of scenery and help clear your mind.

Inflight entertainment to reduce the effect of mental fatigue in long distance international travel

International flights offer incredible opportunities for exploration and adventure. They can also present challenges related to prolonged sitting. Understanding the potential effects of extended sitting and taking proactive measures can help mitigate the toll on your body and mind. Remember to stay hydrated, perform in-seat exercises, and make an effort to move around the cabin when possible. By prioritizing your well-being during the flight, you can arrive at your destination feeling more comfortable. Be refreshed, and ready to embark on your international journey.

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