Exercise may be your best weapon to fight jet lag while traveling

Few things can interfere with your enjoyment of a getaway or functioning during a business trip than jet lag, and if you’ve ever experienced it, you know the feeling well. Nausea, headaches, irritability, exhaustion/fatigue and difficulty with memory and coordination are some of the many symptoms that can manifest as jet lag, and none of them should join you on your next trip.

Jet lag results from problems with your circadian rhythm, or biological clock, which remains set on the place you departed from and requires time to adjust to your new destination. It usually requires the crossing of at least three times zones, and the further you go, the worse jet lag can be. It may come right away or some time after you’ve landed, and further symptoms like loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, constipation and grogginess can last for several days afterwards in worst-case situations.

Many people have their own remedies and strategies for jet lag, and some—like sleeping on the flight—are usually helpful. One strategy you might not be aware of, though, is exercise. We know regular physical activity is great for maintaining good health, but research has also shown that it can help with time-change adjustments and may speed up the return to a normal circadian rhythm while traveling.

Exercising may be the last thing you want to do at any time around your travels, but willing yourself to do it can make a huge difference. Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates recommends these exercise tips while traveling to fight off jet lag:

  • Before flight: If you have the energy, try a high-intensity workout to burn off some calories and reduce travel stress; brisk laps in airport work too
  • During flight: You may be confined, but exercises on the plane are very helpful and will keep your blood flowing while also making you feel less cramped and tight; try ab twists, inner thigh squeezes, neck, shoulder and hip stretches; also be sure to get up and walk around the plane periodically
  • After flight: Jet lag may take some time to set in, so you should exercise the day you arrive or next day, even if it’s a short walk at moderate intensity
  • Try to exercise at the same time each day, which has been found to help people better adapt to even significant time shifts
  • Normal hydration may be reduced from the flight, so stay hydrated
  • Avoid naps, which can further interfere with circadian rhythms

Don’t let your next trip be ruined by jet lag and take matters into your own hands by performing these exercises. For additional tips or more information to help you on your next trip, visit Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates at either or our two locations in Shelby or Kings Mountain, NC. Call 704-471-0001 for more information or to schedule an appointment.