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You just got off the plane in, let’s say Tahiti, you begin to take in the breathtaking sights and plan your next moves for a weeklong vacation, and then it hits you: jet lag.

Few things can get in the way of your enjoying a getaway or simply functioning during a business trip than jet lag, and if you’ve ever experienced it, you know the feeling well. However, you can avoid jet lag with help from a physical therapist.

What is jet lag?

Before you can take steps to avoid jet lag, you need to know more about it. Jet lag is the result of problems with your circadian rhythm or biological clock. Your biological clock typically remains set on the place you departed from and requires time to adjust to your new destination. This is even more true if you’ve crossed multiple time zones. 

This issue may come right away or some time after you’ve landed, and it can lead to symptoms like:

  • Loss of appetite 
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Constipation
  • Grogginess 
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty with memory and coordination

Exercising at these three times can help you avoid jet lag

Many people have their own remedies and strategies for jet lag, and some, like sleeping on the flight, are usually helpful. One strategy you might not be aware of is exercise. We know regular physical activity is great for maintaining good health, but research has also shown that it can help with time-change adjustments and may speed up the return to a normal circadian rhythm while traveling.

Exercising may be the last thing you want to do at any time around your travels, but willing yourself to do it can make a huge difference. Physical therapists advise you to consider exercising at three specific times because doing so can help you avoid jet lag.

  1. Before your flight 

If you have the energy, try a high-intensity workout to burn off some calories and reduce travel stress. For instance, you could do some brisk walking in the departure airport. You can also work out at home or at your hotel before heading to the airport for your flight

  1. During your flight

You may be confined, but exercises on the plane are very helpful and will keep your blood flowing. They can also help you feel less cramped and tight. You can try exercises that require very little room to do, such as: 

  • Ab twists
  • Inner thigh squeezes
  • Neck, shoulder and hip stretches
  • Isometric quad exercises

Also, be sure to get up and walk around the plane periodically. 

  1. After your flight

Jet lag can take some time to set in, so you should exercise the day you arrive or the next day, even if it’s just a short walk at moderate intensity. You should also try to exercise at the same time each day, which has been found to help people better adapt to even significant time shifts

Additionally, your hydration may be reduced from the flight. This means that you may want to drink more water to get back to a normal level of hydration. You should also try to avoid naps because they can further interfere with circadian rhythms.

Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation can help you avoid jet lag

Don’t let your next trip be plagued by jet lag! Our Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation team can help you learn exercises to avoid it. We offer free screenings that can reveal issues that could contribute to jet lag. Our physical therapists can then build you an individualized therapy plan to reduce your risk of jet lag. 

Contact our team today for more information about our helpful therapy services or to schedule an initial appointment. 


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