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How to Minimize the Negative Effects of Flying

How to Minimize the Negative Effects of Flying

It takes about an hour to recover for each time zone you cross while flying. A transcontinental flight spanning 5 time zones requires about 5 hours of recovery. But there are some ways to minimize the negative effects of flying and help keep you energetic after your flight:

1. Beginning a week or so before your trip, adjust your bedtime an hour a day to accommodate the change in time zones.

2. Include some strength-building exercises in your routine to make sure you are strong enough to lift and haul all those suitcases.

3. Take short brisk walks while waiting at the airport.

4. Set your watch to local time as soon as you board the plane.

5. For long flights - particularly when flying east - try to sleep on the plane to account for lost sleep.

6. If you can't get a full night of sleep, try to take a short nap once you reach your destination. Just 15-20 minutes can benefit the brain.

7. Walk around during the flight, and do light stretching.

8. Stay well-hydrated by drinking water, 100% fruit drinks, and sports drinks.

9. Avoid alcohol while traveling. It is dehydrating, acts as a depressant, and can worsen your jet lag symptoms. (If you are nervous about flying, ask your doctor about ways you can relax and make it through the flight.)

10. Eat healthfully, but lightly - and at regular intervals during your trip.

Rushing to catch your flight, lugging a heavy suitcase through terminals, sitting in a cramped seat for a long time, experiencing flight delays, and dealing with crowds and noise can be stressful so be sure to begin your trip well-rested and anticipate delays and inconveniences. Slip a good book, a few healthy snacks, and other essentials (e.g., underwear and prescriptions in case your luggage is lost) into your carry-on bag. You might not be able to do anything about the screaming child on your flight, but you can wear earplugs!

Flighthealth.org. 2009.


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