9 Clever Ways to Exercise at the Airport

Sitting for long periods of time has been linked to insomnia and to dying young.

The Holidays have many of us traveling, and for most people travel (especially air travel) means a lot of sitting, standing, sitting, a little walking, and more sitting. Oh, and a lot of sitting. Seeing family is a must during the Holidays, so you might say “travel inactivity” is a necessary evil.

I beg to differ! It’s just evil, not necessary.

Part I – Waiting in Line

1. Standing calf-raises while holding your carry-on baggage.

If you’re like me, you always try to pack light but you end up with a bag nearly as heavy as you. But heavy carry-on bags aren’t necessarily a bad thing, because you can use them to exercise your legs.

While you’re waiting in line, hold your carry-on baggage either in a farmer’s carry hold or in front of you (like you’re carrying a big bucket). Stand up on your toes, then lower yourself back down. Repeat as needed.

2. Shoulder shrugs with your carry-on baggage.

This is another exercise you can do anywhere in the airport without anyone suspecting you. (Maybe use security check as a break.) Just hold one bag in each hand (ideally of equal weight, but you can switch off), and shrug your shoulders. Repeat as needed.

3. Bicep curl hold.

Another very discrete exercise you can do while standing or on the move. Simply grip a bag in each hand and curl it up like you’re doing a bicep curl. Hold it still against your chest so you don’t draw attention to yourself.

Part II – On the Move

4. Always take the stairs.

This one’s pretty simple. Just take the stairs whenever possible.

5. Farmer’s carry your luggage.

Hold one bag in each hand instead of carrying anything on your back. This is a great grip exercise.

Part III – Waiting for your flight or just standing around

6. Do a wall-sit.

Wall sits are great static exercises for the quads. Do a wall-sit for five minutes and you will feel the burn.

If you don’t know what a wall-sit is, just sit against a wall like you’re sitting on an invisible chair. It shouldn’t take long to figure out why this is a great exercise.

7. Take a farmer’s carry walk around the terminal.

Got 20 minutes before boarding? Use it to your advantage, because you have a lot of sitting ahead of you. Grab your bags, one in each hand, and take a 19-minute walk around the airport terminal. Watch out for “do not enter” signs (especially in China!).

Part IV – In your seat

This is maybe the most difficult part of traveling because it takes up the most time. Plus, it’s hard to imagine how to turn a man’s arch nemesis (sitting) into something active. I think it’s possible, though, with a little ingenuity.

8. Get up and walk every 45 minutes.

Another desperate move—but it’s worth it if it wards off deep vein thromboses. Just get up and walk.

9. Sit up straight.

If you’re really stuck and you’re sick of butt squeezes, just sit with good posture. This strengthens your back and makes all that sitting just a little less terrible for your body.

If all else fails, keep the rest of your lifestyle in check.

Eat healthy at the airport, even if it’s a little “expensive.” (Everything is expensive at the airport.) Meditate when you have 5 minutes to spare. Make a list of all the things that went right during check-in, or a list of everything you’re glad you have at home.

Make these Holidays the healthiest yet.

Be well.

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