7 Easy Airplane Exercises You Can Do from Your Seat

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 01/02/22 •  5 min read

Do you enjoy flying?

Of course you do! Especially if flying takes you to your vacation hotspot, or back to see your loved ones! Just thinking about it fills you with energy and makes you want to jump around from happiness! Too bad you cannot do that in the airplane. You have to wait until your flight lands. Hopefully, you won’t have turned into a sleeping zombie by the time you arrive.

Or, maybe you don’t enjoy flying. Because you are doing a round-the-world tour and are tired of getting on and off the airplane, have already watched all of the available movies, finished your book, and have nothing else to do other than sit on your airplane seat and wait for the flight to end. It’s so boring, AND it makes you feel so stiff. You are now switching to zombie mode.

In either case, here is one more way to have fun in the airplane: Work out! By working out you will avoid becoming super-stiff because of a long flight, and will fight airplane boredom! Fasten your seatbelts!

(Disclaimer: This workout is for entertainment purposes only. Neither Maria or anyone else associated with Fitness Reloaded is responsible for any injury sustained while doing these exercises. Consult a doctor before starting an exercise program).

Workout Breakdown

Exercise #1: Leg Lifts

Sit on your seat. Close your feet. Now pull your knees up and then down without touching the floor with your feet. Up, down… Repeat at least 8 times! This is great for your abs!

1 leg lifts

Leg Lifts

Extra points for those of you who wear jeans, as jeans add extra resistance and make the exercise more difficult.

Exercise #2: Circles

Sitting on your seat, lift your knees like in the previous exercise and do circles without your feet touching the floor. Repeat at least 8 times, and then do it again circling your knees in the other direction.

2 circles small

Knee Circles

Exercise #3: Crossover Lift

As you are sitting, place the ankle of your left leg on top of your right leg. Now push your right leg up. And down. Repeat at least 8 times, and then do it again switching legs.

Again, your foot should not touch the floor.

Airplane Exercise | Crossover Lift

Let’s move into some upper body moves…

Exercise #4: Stand on fists

Make fists with your hands and place them next to you close to your knees. Push your weight forward, and then pull yourself up. Your feet are off the ground and your butt is off the seat. Hold this position for 20 sec!

Airplane Exercises | Stand on Fists

Stand on Fists

Exercise #5: Stand on fists pulses

If you want to add an extra challenge on the previous exercise, then I dare you to lift yourself up and start doing pulses (i.e., quick lifts) with your knees.

Airplane Exercises | Stand on Fists Pulses

Stand on Fists Pulses

Exercise #6: Tri Lift

Now place your hand on the bars of your seat. Make sure that you don’t annoy the people that sit next to you, and that your elbows point toward the back instead of outwards. Now lift yourself up using your triceps (the muscles in the back of your arms). Up, and down, up and down…Repeat another 8 times.

Your feet should touch the floor for stability. However, don’t use them to help yourself get up. This is an upper body exercise!

Airplane Exercises | Tri Lift

Tri Lift

Exercise #7: Harder Tri Lift

Get in the same position as before, but lift your feet off the ground this time. Pull yourself up and down another 8 times…

Airplane Exercises | Harder Tri Lift

Harder Tri Lift

That was it! You just finished your airplane seat workout!

Airplane Workout Q&A

1. Do I need to warm-up?

These are all body-weight exercise. That means you can adjust the resistance according to what you can do. I suggest you start by doing one set of each exercise in a way that feels very easy to you. Then you can make it harder!

2. Isn’t it dangerous to exercise on the airplane?

Airplanes are not always stable so never exercise when the “fasten your seat-belts” sign is on. Other than that, it should not be more dangerous than exercising on ground level.

3. Aren’t people going to look at me like I am a freak?

Maybe. If they are sleeping no-one will notice. If not, they may think you are a weirdo. If you feel self-conscious just avoid exercises 6 and 7 as they will grab the most attention. However, no-one will even notice if you are doing exercises 1-3.

4. I usually stretch in the airplane. Do I also need to exercise to overcome stiffness?

Stretching in the airplane is great! I am not recommending to replace stretching with working out. Either one is beneficial. If you have time, why not do both? 🙂

5. I never exercise. Should I do this workout?

Yes! Especially exercises 1-3 are great for beginners and will work your tummy effectively. What a better day to exercise than today? Even if you never exercise again, doing a quick work out will feel rejuvenating.

6. I read your post but I don’t really understand how to do the exercises. Do you have a video?

Yes, I have prepared a video showing you the moves.


7. I still have more questions. Can I contact you?

Of course. E-mail me: FitwithMaria at FitnessReloaded dot com .

So what do you think? Have you ever exercised on the airplane? If yes, what were your moves?

Maria is a certified personal trainer and the founder of Fitness Reloaded, where she helps everyday people become fitter by “getting up and just doing it”! She holds an Engineering degree, with an MS degree from Stanford University. She is currently working on her MBA degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Visit www.fitnessreloaded.com for 5 min workout videos and easy tips to become healthier!

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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15 comments on "7 Easy Airplane Exercises You Can Do from Your Seat"

  1. Poul Stefansen says:

    Great post, and considering I’m studying to be a physical therapist I highly advise. It’s also a great way to prevent DVTs that would occur with blood pooling in your legs with inactivity. You could also do the abdominal drawing in maneuver or kegels to work on core and pelvic floor muscles.

    1. Maria says:

      Hey Poul! I’m glad you liked the exercises!

      A single flight seems to me to short to cause a DVT. Is there any research supporting otherwise?

      Also, what do you mean “the abdominal drawing in maneuver”?

      Great idea on doing Kegel exercises!

Comments are closed.