If you already have varicose veins, or you are at risk of developing them, then long haul travel can pose additional health concerns. When you’re not moving, neither is your blood, and this can cause blood clots to form. If you’re traveling for longer than 5 hours it is recommended that you perform the below leg exercises every couple of hours. These leg exercises for long haul flights can help keep your blood moving and relieve additional pressure on your veins.

Note: Most of these exercises can be performed in your seat.

Find out more: Varicose Vein Causes, How to Prevent Varicose Veins During Long Haul Flights


Foot Lifts

Sitting up straight, place both heels on the floor and lift your toes as high as you can, holding the stretch for 15 seconds. Then relax and perform the opposite motion, placing the balls of your feet on the floor and lifting your heels as high as you can for 15 seconds.

Illustration of 3 feet lift from the "in-flight exercises for vein health" blog.

Ankle Rotations

Lift both feet off the floor and rotate your toes in a circle. Start by moving both feet five times in a clockwise direction, then five times counterclockwise. Finish up by moving one foot clockwise while moving the other counter-clockwise, then reverse directions and repeat.


Illustration of a rotating foot along with the clockwise arrows from the "in-flight exercises for vein health" blog.

Knee to Chest

Bend forward slightly and grab your left knee and pull it towards your chest. Hold for 15 seconds, and then repeat with the other knee.

3 Animated woman sitting on a chair from the "in-flight exercises for vein health" blog.

Leg Stretches

Stretch one leg out straight under the seat in front of you and rotate your foot clockwise ten times, and then counter-clockwise ten times. Repeat with the other leg.

3 Animated man sitting on a chair from the "in-flight exercises for vein health" blog.

Forward Bends

Place both feet flat on the floor and pull your abdomen in, then bend forward slowly and walk your fingers down your shins to your ankles. Hold this position for 15 seconds and then sit up.

Animated lady sitting on a chair and having a bending motion from the "in-flight exercises for vein health" blog.

Muscle Contractions

Sit up straight and contract your abdominal muscles and hold them in place for 20-30 seconds. Then do the same thing while tightening your gluteal muscles.

4 arrows pointing on an animated abdominal muscles from the "in-flight exercises for vein health" blog.

Stretch While Waiting for the Bathroom

Another exercise for long haul flights is performing a standing version of the Knee to Chest exercise. To do this, stand on one leg and pull the other knee towards your chest. Also, if there is room in the aisle, you can do a couple of gentle leg squats or touch-your-toes exercises.

Seek expert advice

The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive treatment program to treat varicose veins, with non-surgical laser treatment techniques. The benefits of laser treatment to patients are;

  • Walk-in walk-out treatment
  • 98% success rate
  • Extremely effective
  • Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalisation)
  • No general anaesthetic
  • Medicare rebates apply
  • No downtime or time away from work

To book a consultation and discuss our treatment program, call 1300 535 017. Or, complete the form below to receive a call back from one of The Vein Institute team.

About Dr Zil Yassine

Dr Zil Yassine (BA MBBS Uni. NSW, MA Harvard, Fellow (College of Phlebology UK) specialises in the non surgical treatment of varicose veins. He completed training as a Specialist General Practitioner (FRACGP 2014) in Sydney before successfully completing the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine examinations that same year. He has been a doctor for over 10 years and has performed thousands of venous interventions and gives talks on vein treatments at vascular surgeon conferences. Dr Yassine also holds the following degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Surgery (UNSW), Masters of Arts (Harvard University), Diploma of Diagnostic Ultrasound in Phlebology (ACP).

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