You might be surprised to learn that the one thing doctors say you should always have with you when you fly is not antibacterial wipes. Of course, it’s always a good idea to wipe away germs in your personal space — even when we’re not in the midst of a global pandemic. But there’s something else experts recommend you keep in your carry-on bag — and it could save your life.
According to a story in HuffPost, you should pack a pair of compression socks, especially for long flights. That’s because sitting still for long periods of time is bad for your circulation. A vascular surgeon explains that because you can’t move around when flying your blood becomes stagnant, and that can cause blood clots. This is known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT.
How they work is quite simple. As the name suggests, compression socks compress your calf muscles, mimicking what happens naturally when you walk around. This keeps fresh blood pumping to your heart.
If you are healthy, with no heart issues, the doctor says you probably only need to wear compression stockings on flights longer than four or five hours. But if you’re prone to blood clots or leg swelling, you might want to don a pair for all flights.
To improve circulation while flying, the doctor interviewed by HuffPost also suggested getting up to stretch and walk the aisle every couple of hours. If that’s not an option, consider doing a seated workout. A Chicago Tribute articles offers these exercise instructions: “Extend both legs and move both feet back and forth in a circular motion. Move the knee up to the chest and hold the stretch for at least 15 seconds. Put both feet on the floor and point them upward, and then lift both heels as high as possible.”
You can also promote good circulation during flights by staying hydrated, avoiding alcohol, and wearing loose fitting clothing.