Five ways to stay healthy on the plane

From how to combat colds to dealing with jet lag

Five Simple Hacks to Avoid Jet Lag

While a holiday can be good for your health, flying can take its toll on your body. If you have a flight coming up, particularly a long haul one, here are five ways to stay healthy on the plane.

See also: The science of jet lag and how to prevent it

See also: How to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes

1. Combat a cold
Starting your holiday with a cold or bug that you picked up on the plane is all too common. Being confined to one area with other people (and their germs) and the dry air doesn't help.

Boots UK Pharmacist Angela Chalmers explains: "Most planes fly at 35,000 feet which means the air on the plane will be drier. This can dry out your nasal passages which act as one of your body's defences against picking up colds and other infections. Coupled with the fact that on a plane you're in close proximity to lots of other people – it can make it easier for bugs to spread."

If you feel a cold coming on, Vicks First Defence nasal spray (£6.54 for 15ml) may stop it in its tracks. When used at the first signs of a cold, the spray acts at the back of the nose where the virus takes hold and starts to develop. It traps, inactivates and helps your body naturally remove the cold virus, before it develops into a full blown cold.

2. Stay hydrated
Of course, the other important thing to do is stay hydrated.

"Aeroplanes have a much lower humidity compared to the air we're used to on the ground. The humidity on an aeroplane is usually around 20% whereas humidity on the ground tends to be over 40%. This means our bodies are more likely to feel dry and dehydrated," says Angela.

Make a conscious effort to increase your water intake whilst on your flight. Always say 'yes' to an offer of water from the cabin crew even if you don't feel particularly thirsty. Dehydration can make you tired and headachy, so drinking plenty can make a huge difference to how you feel when you land.

Boots Dry Eyes Eye Mist (10ml, £12.49), will help soothe and relieve dryness caused by the dry air on the plane.

3. Avoid jet lag
Jet lag is another problem on long haul flights, but there are things you can do.

"If you're flying afar and are subject to jet lag you can minimise the effects by preparing your body before you fly," says Angela. "If you're travelling East, start going to bed earlier and getting up earlier about four or five days before you travel, and if you're going West, do the opposite.

"This will help to get your body clock ready for the change in time, keeping those precious holiday hours protected from feelings of exhaustion. Also remember to set your watch to the time of your destination as soon as you board the plane to get psychologically prepped for the new time zone."

4. Keep moving every hour
It's important to keep the blood flowing on long haul flights, as sitting still for hours at a time could increase your risk of DVT.

"Take a look at the inflight magazine, as most will suggest a number of simple exercises that help your blood circulation and invest in flight socks," says Angela. "Most importantly remember to stand up, stretch and walk around at least once every hour."

If you're concerned, invest in a pair of flight socks (£13.49).

5. Protect from UV on the plane
You might think you don't need sunscreen until you arrive, but it's a good idea to wear it on the plane.

Angela explains: "Most windows on planes don't always block UVA rays, and a higher altitude means stronger ultraviolet rays too. If you're sitting in the window seat on a daytime flight, ensure you're protected by packing a handy 100ml sun screen in your carry on to use!"