Long plane rides can be fun. The movies, the snacks, the interesting seatmates, but flights can also have downsides—particularly when they present health risks to older folks. One of these risks, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), is a condition in which a blood clot forms in the deep veins of the legs. The risk of DVT increases dramatically after a long-haul flight. Here are some exercises you can do in your seat to help avoid DVT.
Ankle turns: Lift your feet from the floor and rotate one ankle clockwise and the other counterclockwise for 20 to 30 seconds. Switch directions and repeat.
Knee lifts: With your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, raise one leg while tightening your thigh muscle, then lower it and do the same with the other leg. Repeat this movement 10 times for each leg.
Foot lifts: Plant your feet on the floor, then keep your heels on the ground and lift your toes as high as they can go. Bring your toes back to the floor, then keep the balls of your feet planted while you lift your heels up. Repeat 10 times.
Leg extensions: Bring one knee up to your chest, then straighten your leg as far as it can go under the seat in front of you. Repeat 10 times.
Foot presses: Every hour or so, press the balls of your feet down hard on the floor or footrest. This helps to increase the flow of blood in your legs.
Source: Planes, Canes, and Automobiles by Valerie M. Grubb