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Fly fitter with these 7 essential airport exercises
No more lazy layovers. Turn transit time into "me time" with these simple tips for fitter flying
Let's face it -- as much as we all love heading off on a vacation, airport layovers are no one's idea of a good time. They feel like dead air -- an inconvenient, albeit necessary, evil on the way to something better.
What's more, your wallet and waistline both pay for the privilege of painstakingly passing the hours.
The waiting just adds to the discomfort of a long flight and leaves you drained when you finally reach your destination.
It's time to break with travel tradition and turn layovers into productive fitness sessions -- your mind, body and bank account will feel all the better for it.
Plus, it’s one less visit to the hotel gym.
Terminals are the perfect training ground. Sure, you may (definitely) get a few strange looks from curious bystanders, but don’t be deterred -- they’re just bored and you’re staying healthy while flying.
Short of hitting one of the still-rare airport gyms, here are seven of the best airport exercises.
1. Terminal laps
This is the easiest, most obvious form of airport exercise. It also happens to be one of the subtlest -- a perfect choice for travelers wanting to keep moving while standing still.
Walking or jogging is the best way to shake off hours of being bound to a seat, as well as prepare you for the next leg of a journey.
The recommended minimum for cardio activity is 20 minutes. This is easily achievable in even the shortest of layovers.
Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport is a favorite.
When Paul Andreu created the circular shaped terminal, it's unlikely he realized that his avant-garde design would provide the perfect track for airport exercise enthusiasts.
2. Stairway to nowhere
Airport terminals are filled with steps that lead to nowhere. You can turn this unbeaten track into your very own StairMaster.
Stairs can be used for two different exercises -- step-ups and stair sprints -- the latter being decidedly bolder.
Starting at the base of the stairs, raise your right foot to a tread to extend your leg and simply step up. Drop back and repeat using your left foot. Continue, alternating between left and right.
The sprints are self-explanatory. Just be prepared for stares as you attack the stairs.
Keep motivated by the satisfaction that you’re taking steps to reduce jet lag (pun totally intended).
3. Stretching, a point
Stretching is especially important during air travel.
If you have a layover, the odds are you’re in it for the long haul, so it’s important to stretch out your muscles. This will improve in-flight circulation and reduce the chance of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
Light stretching can be done at every airport in the world. Here’s an easy one to flex leg muscles -- extend your right leg out, while bending your left knee. Repeat using the alternative leg.
Another important stretch is to rotate ankles in a circular motion to loosen muscles and reduce fluid build up.
There are hundreds of stretches, so go forth and flex. However, before engaging in a full-blown yoga session, take note of your surroundings. "Downward dog" is not for everyone.
More on CNN: Airplane yoga: 18 exercises for healthy flying
4. Playground fun
Why should the kids have all the fun? Playground spaces are basically outdoor gyms, disguised in bright colors.
Narita International Airport near Tokyo is one of many travel hubs boasting play spaces. In fact it has two dedicated playgrounds. Perfect ...
Take advantage of play equipment for a fuss-free workout. Monkey bars make for the perfect chin- or leg-up bar. That’s got your upper and lower body covered.
Now for the core.
The squishy underlay of a children’s playground is just like an enlarged yoga mat (it’s also not a bad place for a nap). Push-ups, sit-ups and other forms of core work can be completed safely on this type of flooring.
5. Stealth operator
If taking over children’s play equipment is too overt, try a spot of airport meditation.
Feeling good when reaching your destination is as much of a mental effort, as it is physical. Whether it’s a boardroom or a beach waiting for you at the end of your journey, air travel is innately stressful.
Taking steps to relax makes for a more pleasant journey.
While the art of true meditation takes practice and discipline, travelers can revel in calmness through a simple breathing exercise.
Gently shut your eyes and take a long, deep breath. While drawing in, focus energy on the oxygen reaching your fingertips and toes. Exhale slowly.
Disclaimer: The irritation of a crying baby or a passenger emitting odd odors may not dissipate. However this exercise could prevent you reaching for that extra glass of wine.
6. Travelator treadmill
Travelators, linking the vast spaces between gates, are often unoccupied, making this moving metal perfect for a spot of power walking.
Moving steadily and purposefully against the flow of the belt can provide some of the same benefits as running, while cutting out the need to navigate clots of passengers and the other obstacles that block terminals as you dash around them.
Hot tip -- don't exercise in the middle; instead, stay near the end of the travelator. If you get hit by a barrage of people, it’s easy to jump off and pretend you weren’t just using the airport as your own personal treadmill.
7. For the truly keen
You can improve the intensity of a fitness session by packing a few small and, importantly, light items.
A skipping rope, exercise band and yoga mat are the perfect accompaniments on any layover.
Clearly, no advice or instruction are required. If you bothered to bring the items you’ve got game.
The days of layovers filled with aimless wandering, unwanted duty-free purchases, too many meals and even more drinks are over. Health and fitness need not suffer during transit.
Yes, people will stare. But do you really care? You'll feel better when you board that plane.
Besides, you may just convert a fellow traveler or two. Soon, we’ll be complaining not about the delays, but that all the travelators are taken.