In-Flight Exercises For Avoiding DVT

By Western Berks on March 21st, 2016


In-flight Exercises - Staying Fit in the Air - Western Berks Physical Therapy

The longer a person is immobile, the greater the risk of DVT. DVT is a condition where a clot occurs in a deep vein, typically in the lower leg, although it can occur in other areas such as the arm. Therefore, experts believe that you can reduce your risk during airplane travel by exercising whenever possible. Clearly, however, this is no easy task, given the cramped parameters of an airplane. One of the first things you can do to improve mobility during a flight is to stand up once each hour. Try to walk up and down the aisles several times, stopping to stretch whenever possible. You can also try these in-flight exercises:

  • Heel and calf raises by rising up on your toes
  • Squeeze a tennis ball or racquetball in your hand
  • Ankle circles and knee lifts while seated


Recently, the media has paid a great deal of attention to suggestions that passengers exercise during flights, particularly those lasting four hours or more. Although some reports may have been sensationalized, it is true that exercise reduces the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). While most clots are small and will dissipate on their own, larger ones may cause:

  • Swelling and pain in the calf
  • Intense pain upon standing
  • A pulmonary embolism if the clot travels to your lungs, possibly resulting in death.

Remember that the risk of DVT is similarly present during car travel although, because people tend to stop for beverages, meals or toilet breaks, the risks may not be as great. If you travel by car, ensure that you take a rest stop at least once every two hours. When you do stop, be sure to stretch before doing any kind of exercise.

If you have plans for a long flight or car trip, talk to us here at Western Berks Physical Therapy about additional exercises and tips for reducing your risk of DVT. By taking simple measures to maintain a healthy body, you can keep your focus on enjoying your trip.

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