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Ways to Stretch on an Airplane

Ways to Stretch on an Airplane

When you are on a long flight, it is easy to become restless! However, getting up and moving can be daunting, as you don’t want to look like a weirdo! That is why we put together this list of ways to stretch on an airplane!

These simple exercises and stretches are perfect to do on an airplane, as they do not require a lot of space. In fact, you can do some of them right in your airplane seat!

Keeping your body moving and blood flowing is very important during a flight. Sitting for a long time can cause blood clots in your legs, which can be very dangerous. 

However, by staying as active as reasonably possible on an airplane, you can help prevent this from happening!

Stretching and exercising on the plane is also a great way to tire your muscles and body, making it much easier to actually fall asleep on an airplane

Why not stand up while reading this? Lets get moving!

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How to exercise on a plane

Toe Raises

This is one of the many easy ways to stretch on an airplane, as it requires hardly any room! All you need is a place to stand, which could be at your seat!

Maybe you are waiting in line for the bathroom, or are just standing in the aisle by your row. All you need is a standing position, making this exercise a “no excuses” exercise!

Simply stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and press up onto your toes. You should feel this exercise in your calf muscles.

You can even do one foot at a time, for an extra challenge. Hold onto the seat or wall next to you if you need to balance.

Toe raises are a great way to prevent blood clots, as it gets the blood flowing into your calves!

This is a great one to do if you’re wondering what to do before boarding a plane!

Neck Rolls

Woman in White Lace Crew-neck Cap-sleeves Top

Neck rolls are more ways to stretch on an airplane. You don’t really need any space for this one, just you and your body!

You can do neck rolls while sitting in your seat, or while waiting in line for the bathroom, in the aisle, or practically anywhere!

Practice drawing big circles with your nose from the crown of your head down towards your chest. When you feel ready, repeat going the other direction. Here is a guide that describes this exercise further!

After sleeping with your neck pillow for hours, your neck will most likely become pretty stiff! Neck rolls can help relieve tension and pain in your neck and upper back. 

Ankle Rolls

Ankle rolls are more ways to stretch on an airplane, especially if you cannot walk about the cabin.

Maybe the passenger next to you is asleep, or the fasten your seatbelt sign is on. You can do ankle rolls without breaking any top airplane travel mistakes, or disturbing your neighbor!

Start out by simply rolling your foot in a circle, with your foot off the ground. Repeat going the opposite direction.

For additional exercising, alternate between flexing your food with your toes pointing towards the ceiling, and pointing your toes down. 

Not only does this exercise open up your ankles, but it will get some blood flow going in your calves, again, preventing blood clots. 

Shoulder Rolls

Let’s keep it going with some more rolls! Shoulder rolls are great ways to stretch on an airplane, as you can do them in your seat, in the aisles, and practically anywhere!

Lift your shoulders up towards your ears, then back behind you, as your shoulder blades come together in your back, then back to neutral. Repeat this in the opposite direction.

You can also practice lifting your shoulders up to your ears, and tightening all your muscles, then dropping them as you exhale and relax. 

Maybe do one shoulder at a time, as a unique way to pass time on an airplane

If you have room, lift your arms above your head, and clasp your hands together and reach towards the ceiling. Maybe move your arms to the sides to get a nice side body stretch. 

Glute Squeezes

If you don’t have a good airplane seat cushion, chances are your bottom will begin to hurt. 

Combat this annoying pain by doing some glute squeezes. You can do this while sitting, though it is easier when standing. If you are worried about others looking at you funny, you can do this in the bathroom, or facing a wall. 

Simply flex your glute muscles, hold for 5 seconds, and slowly release. This will help your bottom feel a bit less sore, as blood flow is getting to that area. 

Take some laps

People sitting inside of airplane

When the seatbelt sign is turned off, one of the most simple exercises for flights is to just walk around the cabin!

Aim to get up and walk around once an hour, even if just going to the bathroom and back. This will keep the blood flowing in your legs, again preventing blood clots.

Another suggestion is to get a good pair of compression socks. These socks help keep blood flowing in your legs to prevent blood clots. 

Have some fun with your walkabouts- maybe stop and do a couple of lunges in the aisle, or only walk on your tip toes. Don’t be afraid of looking silly- you gotta do what you gotta do!

Get marching!

For these ways to stretch on an airplane, you will pretend to be marching! You can stand in the aisles or the bathroom for this exercise, where ever you can find a little space.

Simply pull your knee up to your chest from a standing position, and lower it back to the floor. Repeat with the other leg. You get the picture!

Start adding some arm movements, too! Move your arms side to side, or maybe even up and down like doing a jumping jack.

The more movements you can add to these exercises, the better!

If you do this one for long, you will start to feel your heart rate rising! This is a great tip for how to actually fall asleep on an airplane! 


Unless you are a dancer, this fancy word basically just means lifting your leg behind you.

From a standing position, put all your weight on one leg, and straighten the other leg behind you. Lift that leg, and pulse up. You should feel your glute muscle activating. Repeat on the other side. 

Don’t worry about lifting your leg up too high. A few inches to a foot is enough to get a good burn!

This is a great exercise to get your glutes feeling better after sitting for so long. 

Again, opt for a good seat cushion, and these other actually useful gifts for frequent travelers to help keep you comfy!

Spine Rotations

Woman wearing black stretching by water

If your lower back hurts on planes or when sitting for long periods of time, consider buying a lumbar support pillow

However, if you do not have one, some spine rotations can help ease some tension. 

Scoot up a bit in your seat, and place your left hand behind you. Rotate your body in that direction and try to look at your hand. Repeat in the opposite direction.

You can always use the seat back or the armrest to hold onto to get some extra rotating power!

You might here some back cracking with this one!

Shoulder & Leg stretch

Woman stretching
Maybe without the tip toes, to start 😉

This simple exercise is a double whammy, targeting 2 muscle groups with one stretch!

This is best done in an area with more space, such as waiting to use the bathroom. 

Clasp your hands behind you, and reach up as far as you can. Simultaneously, bend at the hip and bring your nose as close to your legs as possible. You should feel both a stretch in your shoulders and your legs.

If adding the leg stretch is too much for you, that’s ok! Listen to your body, and only stretch where it feels good!


Woman squatting holding medicine ball

Our last ways to stretch on an airplane include everyone’s favorite (not)- squats!

These are great to get the blood pumping throughout your entire body, and will definitely tire out your legs so you are less restless!

Do these while waiting in line for the bathroom, or even in the bathroom if there is enough space! 

Thank you for reading ways to stretch on an airplane! We would love to hear what crazy exercises and stretches you have done on a flight- let us know in the comments below!

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