Instead of heading to your gate or the airline lounge and sitting down, walk around the airport. Chances are you're going to be seated for a few hours in a small airplane, so take advantage of the large space of an airport. Walking around to explore the airport's offerings may reward you with a a hidden gem discovery or a favorite corner, but it will also improve circulation through your lower legs, reducing the risk of deep vein thrombosis.
2. Hip stretches:
While standing, reach your arms high to the ceiling and lift your ribcage along with the movement. This stretches the hip flexors and abdominal muscles, usually inactive and shortened while seated on a flight. This also resets your posture and will not only make you feel better, but might catch the eye of that hottie on your flight.
3. Chest stretches:
This is another one to do while standing. Reach forward with both arms, then pull the elbows as far back as possible, as if you are rowing. Doing this a few times will also stretch the upper chest muscles and reset your scapula for improved posture and reduced fatigue.
4. Heel lifts/foot circles:
Here's one you can do while standing at the windows watching planes come and go. Start by standing with a slight bend to your knees, push yourself up onto your toes, then lower your heels and lift your toes while transferring your bodyweight to your heels. After about 15 of these, simple ankle circles on each leg will stretch the lower leg muscles which are usually most tired during travel.
5. Trunk rotation:
Here's one to do while seated. Scoot to the edge of the chair and sit as tall as possible (see improved posture above). Slowly grab an armrest with your opposite hand and pull; this will rotate your trunk as if you are looking behind you. Repeat on the other side. Know your limits with the movement and only pull as far as you can. While seated on a flight for a few hours, our spines are usually supported and not engaged, so it will be happy to move through a range of motion.
Don't forget there are some airports that have yoga rooms if you need to get one last sun salutation in before you board.
[Photo: Nick Harris1/flickr]