Traveling This Holiday Season? 6 Tips to Improve Your Circulation on a Flight

Comprehensive Vein Treatment Center, airplane,

Gone are the days of roomy seats and a comfortable place to stretch out during a long flight. In an effort to get more (paying) customers into the air, airlines have shrunk the legroom to accommodate more seats, leaving space that even Hobbits would find confining. And this can wreak havoc on your circulation, especially in your legs.

At Comprehensive Vein Treatment Center, we specialize in helping our patients in Trenton, New Jersey, maintain great venous health. Whether you’re healthy to begin with or you have problems with venous sufficiency, airline travel can pose serious issues.

If you’re heading out for the holidays on a long flight, here are six tips to help you arrive at your destination in great (vascular) health.

1. Preflight check

Great circulation doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a multipronged effort of exercise and good health management to ensure that your blood is able to get to where it needs to go without any problems. If you’re planning on airline travel over the holidays, or anytime coming up, prepare now by adding a little more exercise into your day to give your circulation a little preflight boost.

Whether you take the stairs instead of the elevator or park a little farther away from where you need to go, these little steps can help you better weather those moments when you may be trapped. Boosting your circulation in the weeks preceding your flight can only help once you’re on board and they may turn into lifelong healthy habits.

2. Walk it out

On the day of your flight, make sure to give your legs a little workout to get your blood flowing freely. Here again, you can bypass the myriad automated walkways and escalators that are found in airports and give your legs a preflight workout.

3. You’re free to move about the cabin

Once that seatbelt signs goes off, it’s a good idea to unbuckle and get up and move, if you can. We understand that flights are crowded and even getting out of your seat can disrupt other passengers, but your circulation will appreciate the effort. Staying seated for long periods with your legs bent greatly hampers your body’s ability to get blood down into your legs and back up again.

If you’re unable to move around the cabin, try stretching your legs as best you can and grab the in-flight magazine for a list of exercises you can do right from your seat. Most airlines have this list because of the threat of deep vein thrombosis; it can be found toward the back of the magazine.

4. Keep it tight

Another great idea is to arm yourself with graduated compression stockings. These stockings are tightest around your ankles and begin to loosen their grip as they travel upward. The goal here is to prevent blood from pooling in your lower legs and feet, so you want these garments to become progressively looser as they approach your upper legs to encourage flow back toward your heart.  

5. Stay hydrated

One of the pitfalls of airline travel is the dehydration that comes with a pressurized cabin. Dehydration can cause your blood to thicken, so be sure to drink plenty of fluids during your flight and steer clear of caffeinated beverages and alcohol, which are diuretics.

6. Upon landing

The effects of airline travel on your circulation don’t simply go away once you deplane. Sometimes a clot can form days, or weeks, afterward, so continue your efforts to keep moving to encourage healthy circulation once you’re back on land.

It’s important to note that if you’re already seeing us for circulation problems or venous insufficiency, let us know about your air travel plans because we may recommend that you take a blood thinner before you go.


For more tips about safeguarding your circulation on long flights, please give us a call or use the online scheduling tool on this website to set up an appointment.

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