THE INSIDE TRACK • June 2022
It’s no secret that fitness and holidays don’t always mix well. The indulgences of travel can wreak havoc on your wellness plans, so it pays to think ahead when it comes to staying tiptop on the move. Here, Men’s Health editor Ed Cooper and some of our very own Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes reveal the ways you can stay fit as a fiddle on your next journey...
Take the stairs
Whether you’re on a layover for your next flight or have arrived at the terminal early, make sure you sideline the escalators and go for the stairs when you’re making your way around. You’ll engage your core muscles and strengthen your knees, quadriceps and hips ahead of long periods of sitting still. You’ll also improve blood flow and circulation.
“Staying fit at the airport is part of our training plan! A lot of athletes take tennis balls and foam rollers, and you’ll see them using doorframes or walls in the departure lounge for muscle release work”
– Charlotte Henshaw, gold medallist at Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games (Paracanoe)
Carry both bags
While moving around the terminal and on your way to the plane, take one for the team and carry your (and your travel partner’s) baggage. Known as ‘farmer’s walks’ in fitness circles, moving a heavy load between two points – from the walk to the gate, to all the way to the overhead compartments, for example – will help fight back pain, increase grip strength and burn calories.
“With the seating area you can do some tricep dips, keeping your legs straight and bending your arms. And there are lots of lines marked out at an airport, so you can jump over them to keep active, plus lots of lunges while you’re on board”
– Amy Truesdale, ParalympicsGB (Para Taekwondo)
Would you roll out the yoga mat at T5? A pre-travel stretch can get your trip off to the right start
As you’ll be sedentary for most of your flight, you’ll want to make sure that you avoid any discomfort during your journey. Once you’re through security, take a moment to work through this pre-flight stretching routine from Cat Meffan. It only takes 15 minutes but will make a welcome difference to your in-flight comfort, no matter the length of your journey.
“If your gate is fairly far away you can definitely work up a sweat. Plus, you can do a circuit in the waiting areas – there’s always a teammate who’ll be up for that”
– Elliot Stewart, silver medallist at Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games (Para Judo)
Use your carry-on wisely
Most passengers are allowed up to 23kg of cabin baggage per person on British Airways flights (check the handy baggage calculator tool), so be sure to use your allowance wisely. Resistance bands, for example, are a cost-effective way to stay on top of your fitness goals while you’re travelling. That they’re very lightweight and used by everyone from amateur to professional athletes is a welcome bonus.
“I’m no stranger to working out at the airport! Definitely get on with a yoga session while you wait. Also, we travel with a foam roller in our hand baggage, so when you’re sitting around for ages you can use that”
– Charlotte Worthington, gold medallist, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (BMX)
Take a moment
Health, of course, isn’t just about staying active. It’s about keeping your mind healthy, too. When you’re making your way through security to the departure lounge, carve out some time to listen to a calming podcast or practise simple breathing exercises. If you’re finding the airport overly busy, it’s a sure way to keep composed and start your journey peacefully.
“I would practise my sprints on an empty runway if it wasn’t so dangerous! More realistically, I could get my yoga mat out and do some stretches at the gate before the flight”
– Naomi Metzger (née Ogbeta), Team GB (Triple jump)
Lay out a yoga mat
Follow Naomi’s lead with a spot of airside yoga. Lightweight and portable, a mat is a must-pack piece of kit if you’re looking to stay active while you’re away. That doesn’t mean that you have to wait until you touch down. Before your flight, find a quiet spot in the terminal to flow through a quick yoga session. You’ll bring your heart rate down and stretch your muscles ahead of your flight.
“There’s quite a few rails, so I’d do some dips on them and I think it would be important to stretch, too, so I’d use the seating area to stretch out my hamstrings on a chair. I do that before a flight anyway! It’s essential”
– Joe Fraser, Team GB (Gymnastics)
British Airways was the official airline partner of Team GB and ParalympicsGB at the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020. To discover more about the partnership, click here