More than 300 million people travel on long-distance airline flights each year. Almost everybody does fine on a long flight- but something called deep vein thrombosis can be a serious risk for some long-distance travelers. Anyone traveling more than four hours, whether by air, car, bus, or train, can be at risk for blood clots like these.
Blood clots can form in the deep veins of your legs during travel because you’re sitting still in a confined space for long periods of time. The longer you don’t move around, the greater is your risk of developing a blood clot. A serious health problem can occur when a part of the blood clot breaks off and travels to the lungs causing a blockage- called a pulmonary embolism. The good news is there are things you can do to protect your health and reduce your risk for blood clots during a long-distance travel. Here are some tips:
Move your legs as often as you can when on long trips and exercise your calf muscles to improve the flow of blood. If you’ve been sitting for a long time, get up and stretch your legs. Extend your legs straight out and flex your ankles. Some airlines suggest pulling each knee up toward the chest and holding it there with your hands on your lower leg for 15 seconds, and repeat up to 10 times. These types of activities help to improve the flow of blood in your legs.
Now you have something to think about in case you get bored the next time you’re stuck in the middle seat on a cross country flight!