1. Exercise - to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) developing in the leg muscles, make sure you move regularly and, in particular, focus on gentle exercises for the legs and calves.  The below may be particularly helpful:

1. Walk before you get on the plane – we all know that waiting at an airport can involve lots of sitting, so make sure you get a good 20 minute walk in shortly before boarding the plane
2. Calf raises – with shoes off and feet flat on the floor, lift your heels off the floor by squeezing your calves and pushing through your toes.  Hold for five seconds, relax the heels down to the ground and then repeat ten times.
3. Toe taps – with feet flat on the floor, slowly alternately tap the floor under the seat in front of you with the toes of each foot.  Repeat until you have done 15 taps on each foot.
4. Knee lifts – starting with feet flat on the floor, slowly lift one knee towards your chest, hold for two seconds and then slowly lower it to the ground before repeating with the other leg.  Repeat until you have done 15 on each leg.
5. Stretch your legs – make sure you get up and walk around for a few minutes every hour or two

2. Wear elastic flight socks – if you are at a greater risk of DVT (for example, if you have already suffered from it or if you have cardiovascular disease) then these socks can significantly reduce the risk of developing DVT.

3. Hydration – the dry environment of the cabin can easily make someone dehydrated and this can, in turn, increase your risk of DVT, headaches and fatigue.  As such, make sure that you drink small amounts of water regularly.  Unfortunately, alcohol can make us even more dehydrated so avoid more than one or two alcoholic drinks.

4. Boost your immune system before you fly – when we fly, we are suddenly exposed to a large number of strangers in a very confined space.  Because our immune systems adapt to its regular surroundings, this period of exposure to strangers can overwhelm our immune system and lead to coughs, colds and general illness.  As such, try to boost your immune system before you travel by eating seven to nine portions of fruit and vegetables per day for the two weeks before you travel.

5. Optimise your sleep – we all know it can be difficult to fall asleep on a plane, so optimise your ability to do this by avoiding those things that we know hinder sleep, such as caffeine, alcohol and refined carbohydrates (such as biscuits, sweets, white rice, etc).  Instead, opt for wholegrains, healthy fats and proteins (such as from nuts and seeds).

Jay Brewer, Nuffield Health

PROFESSIONAL HEAD OF PHYSIOLOGY

Jay has worked with Nuffield Health for more than four years since graduating from Chester University with a 1st class MSc in Exercise and Nutrition Sciences. During his studies at Chester University Jay also worked as a Dietetic Assistant at the Countess of Chester Hospital and undertook additional modules in biochemistry which has led to his passion for nutrition in health. This was quickly noted by Nuffield Health and Jay was appointed as the Nutritional Expert for Physiology. Over the last two years Jay has been influential in launching and establishing the new breed of ‘integrated’ fitness and wellbeing sites for Nuffield Health.

These multi-practitioner sites provide a fitness offering combined with clinical services such as nutritional therapy, physiotherapy, private GP and clinical health screening with a physiologist. Recently Jay has been appointed Professional Head of Physiology and is responsible for the development of physiology as a whole. Overall, Jay’s philosophy is that health and wellbeing is a multifaceted issue that involves long-term change and for us to be truly ‘healthy’ we must aim for optimum health and wellbeing rather than just avoiding ill health.