By Ireene Siniakis
Chances are if you are an executive in today's business world, you have seen enough airport restaurants and 'fasten seatbelt' signs to last a lifetime. Regular air travel has become a standard part of the job for many executives, with meetings, trainings and seminars being held all over our nation and the world.
For those that love to fly, this is just another career perk. While for others, a root canal sounds better than being trapped in a metal tube 30,000 feet above the ground. Although you might not be able to control whether or not you have to fly, you can choose how all that travel will affect you.
Travelling comes with its' own set of health challenges so it is important for you to be aware of what they are and what you can do about them.
Low Air Pressure
Even though the inside of an airplane cabin is pressurised, it is still much lower than what you would experience at sea level. This can have several effects on your body including clogged ears and swollen hands and feet. Because less oxygen is being absorbed by the blood, it can also cause dizziness or faintness, particularly upon standing.
Many frequent flyers are unaware that the humidity inside an airplane can fall as low as 20%. This is substantially lower than what most people are used to and can cause you to easily become severely dehydrated. In addition to leaving you feeling thirsty, it can also dry out your eyes, nose and throat.
You know how you have been told you should get up from your desk and walk around the office every hour to keep the blood flowing in your legs? The same goes for when you're flying. Staying in one position for a long period of time, particularly in a cramped space like an airplane seat, can increase your risk of blood clots in the legs which can be fatal if they travel to your heart or lungs.
Long flights that take you across time zones can leave you feeling disoriented, sluggish and even sick to your stomach. In fact, your body takes approximately one day to readjust its natural rhythm for every time zone you cross. You obviously can't prevent jet lag from happening altogether but there are some things you can do to lessen its effect on you.
Airline food can sometimes taste bad or be bad for you. It is generally loaded with preservatives and unnecessary fat. So your choices are limited. It is important to eat well leading up to your flight and include lots of colourful vegetables, fruits and plenty of fibre to keep the digestive system in good working order. This ensures your body is loaded with the nutrients it needs to fight off any potential nasties.
When next travelling, consider these tips:
12 Tips for the Busy Traveller
- To combat ear stuffiness and pain, chew sugarless gum that will help your ears to pop. You can also pop them by yawning or swallowing.
- If you are prone to swelling, be sure to wear loose-fitting clothes and remove your shoes during flight.
- Drink plenty of water before and during the flight. Don't rely on the beverage service since it may take a while for the attendants to get to you or they may have to forfeit service if there is severe turbulence. Always bring your own bottle of water onboard with you - where possible.
- Avoid beverages that have a diuretic effect such as coffee, tea and alcohol. If you absolutely have to have them, compensate for their effects by drinking water with them as well.
- Get up and move. Don't worry about being the weird guy that keeps getting up. You'll be the healthiest guy on the plane!
- Avoid crossing your legs. You should also avoid staying in the same position for a prolonged period of time.
- For long hauls, wear compression stockings that add extra pressure to your legs. You can purchase them at your local chemist.
- Start adjusting to your new time as early as you can. If possible, change your clocks at home a couple days before your flight to start getting your body's sleep cycle closer to where you're headed. If that's not possible, set your watch to your new time as soon as you board the plane.
- Once you arrive at your destination, try to stay awake until your normal bedtime and stay in bed until it is time to get up. It may be difficult but will help your body to readjust faster.
- Take Melatonin supplements at bedtime which may also help you to fall asleep at your destination and helps regulate sleep patterns.
- Why not pre-order the low-fat food options online to ensure you get the healthiest meal possible.
- Oversized and overweight bags are a sure way to stuff up your neck or back so it's a good idea to pack light and/or ensure not only your suitcase, but your carry on luggage has wheels on.
As you can see with some forward planning and by adhering to the 12 Tips above, will ensure your transition into a new destination or time zone will be seamless, creates less stress on your body, protecting you from lethargy thus producing a successful trip!