12 Simple Exercise Moves You Can Do On an Airplane


It can seem hard to reach your fitness goals when you’re traveling, and time your could be stepping instead gets spent with your seatback in an upright position. The thing to remember is that any and all movement matters in the quest for health, even on a plane. In fact, it’s especially important to keep moving in-flight, as it can help ease anxiety and boredom, and can help prevent some serious health issues (no one wants post-travel related blood clots as souvenirs).

While current regulations don’t allow shuttle sprints in the aisle, and jumping jacks might make everyone nervous, there are a few moves that can activate your muscles and keep your body feeling good. From first class to that cramped middle seat way in the back, here are some simple exercises you can do on an airplane.

Moves You Can Do In Your Seat

All of these are good for you, and none of them take up much space. Consider telling your in-flight neighbors about your plans, and inviting them to join in the fitness fun. You’ll be the healthiest—and possibly the happiest—row on the plane! Repeat each move multiple times during your flight for best results.


Neck: Slowly tilt your head forward and backward as far as it will go. Want some added resistance? With your head tilted back, rest your hand on your forehead and press gently but firmly into it as you bring your head forward.

Lateral Neck: Then, slowly tilt your head to the right (trying to touch your ear to your shoulder) and then do the same on the left side. Get some resistance again by pressing your hand against your face, opposite the side you’re leaning into.

Shoulders: Shrug your shoulders thoughtfully, lifting them up to your ears and pushing them down, then roll them backward and forward to loosen yourself up. Do a few shoulders rolls to release even more tension.

Back: Fold yourself in half, trying to get your chest to touch the tops of your thighs and hold for a few seconds before slowly returning to your seated position.

Strength Moves

Chest: Pretend you are holding something over your head, or clasp your phone or water bottle, tensing and flexing your chest muscles as your pull the (imaginary or real) object down in front of you, towards your knees. Just remember to keep yourself completely upright, making your arms and chest do the work.

Bicep Curls: Making a fist, or holding a small object like a phone or water bottle, with your elbows at your waist, bring your hand up toward your shoulder. Since you probably don’t have dumbbells, you’ll need to create resistance yourself and pretend your arm doesn’t want your hand to move upward.

Abdominal Suctions: Exhale and then engage your abdominal muscles, pulling your stomach up and in. Hold for one second, then release.

Thigh Squeezes: Make a fist with each hand and place them between your knees. Squeeze your thighs together and hold for five seconds, then release. This will engage the adductors, your inner thigh muscles.

Glute Squeezes: Tighten your rear muscles as much as you can and hold for five seconds, then release. This should help keep your backside more comfortable while sitting for a long flight.

Moves to Try When the Fasten Seatbelt Sign is Off

When it’s safe to move about the cabin, step to it! Be sure not to block anyone’s way, and if you’re concerned about the safety of performing any of these moves please speak to your flight attendants.

Lunges: Whether you can do frontward and backward lunges from the galley, or you try to lunge your way to the lavatory, these moves will get your blood flowing.

Squats: You probably can’t do these in your row (unless you’re in First Class), but you should have plenty of room to perform a set of squats while waiting for the bathroom.

Calf Raises: Need something from the overhead bin? Why not knock out a couple sets of calf raises while searching through your luggage?


Are there other in-flight fitness moves you do to stay sane and keep moving while traveling? Join the conversation!


1 Comment   Join the Conversation

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • Love these tips many of which I used when travelling by plane lately.
    My only problem I have is that I do not know how to sync my Fitbit can you help?
    I love my Fitbit as I find it keeps me aware of my movement or lack there of.

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