DVT Risk: Remember to Exercise When Traveling

By Western Berks on August 30th, 2018

DVT Risk

The media has paid a great deal of attention to suggestions that passengers exercise during flights or car rides, 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).

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. 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

The longer a person is immobile, the greater the risk of DVT. Therefore, experts believe that you can reduce your risk during travel by exercising whenever possible.

One of the first things you can do to improve mobility during travel is to stand up once each hour. On a flight, try to walk up and down the aisles several times, stopping to stretch whenever possible. During a car ride, take a brief walk about the gas station when you stop to fill up. You can also try these 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

Because people tend to stop for beverages, meals or toilet breaks while driving, the risk of DVT may not be as great as it is during long flights. 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. By taking simple measures to maintain a healthy body, you can keep your focus on enjoying your trip.