Make the Most Out of Your Airport Layover with Movement

Travel involves a lot of sitting. Here are five moves to turn your layover into a workout.

For the health-conscious and fitness-committed, there’s no excuse. Any environment can serve as your gym, from your house and office to the outdoors, and even the airport. Travel days are no exception for getting in a good workout and moving. Exercising between flights relieves restlessness, re-energizes you and loosens up your muscles and joints before the next leg of your journey.

Christopher Berger (an exercise physiologist, professor at the University of Indianapolis and chairman of an American College of Sports Medicine task force on healthy air travel) sees airports as an opportunity to exercise, rather than a place where you exercise patience with flight delays and crowds of travelers.

“The human body is not meant to sit in these airline seats for a long time,” said Berger. Stretching or walking for 15 to 20 minutes becomes your responsibility, especially because airports are climate-controlled, vast and safe. Any physical activity is better than none.

Ditch prolonged sitting, high-calorie airport drinks and sugary snacks in favor of a layover workout.

Check out these ideas to give you a burst of endorphins and improve your mood while traveling.

1. Do Laps and Climb the Stairs

You packed your Kindle and your headphones, but throw in a pair of tennis shoes too (in your carry-on, of course). You can take laps around the airport and shake off hours of being chained to a seat. A brisk walk or light jog raises your heart rate (without drawing too much attention to yourself).

But don’t hesitate to take it up a notch with walking lunges, high knees and butt kickers down a secluded corridor. Stairwells are another excellent option. Moving up and down those stairs will help circulate the blood, burn calories and tack on some good cardio. After moving from concourse to concourse and traversing the stairs, imagine how many daily steps you can log on your wearable fitness device or smartphone.

2. Turn Your Tablet into a Personal Trainer

After reading or watching movies on your tablet during your flight, switch gears once you’ve landed. Your tablet can easily transform into your personal trainer or yoga instructor with the right app. If you can spare the extra room, pack your jump rope to torch some calories or yoga mat for flow and calming poses. Open up Yoga Studio, Down Dog or Daily Yoga right on your tablet for daily practice before you board your next flight. For a power surge, plan for high-intensity interval training (HIIT). The app 12 Minute Athlete offers short, intense HIIT workouts focusing on strength, cardio, interval and core training.

3. Move in Place

You don’t need gym equipment or a large space to effectively exercise. Choose one spot (without leaving your luggage and bags) where you can squat and lunge yourself into a good workout. Log the number of reps you’d like to do for each movement, then determine how many rounds (or sets) you’ll do. For example, create a workout of 10 air squats, 10 jumping lunges, 10 mountain climbers and 10 push-ups. Perform this entire sequence for five rounds. Other exercises to include in your routine are burpees, sit-ups, planks, jumping jacks and high knees.

4. Get Active, While Seated

Does sitting for long periods of time dictate your lifestyle? Are you bound to a desk all day at the office? Being sedentary is found to lead to higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and even premature death, according to Time Magazine. Sitting is also linked to other health concerns like obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar and abnormal cholesterol levels. If sitting is your only option at the airport too, you can still get in a full-body workout. offers sneaky seated moves including these three:

5. Hit the Gym

If you travel frequently, the airport is your second home and office. But this can also be your opportunity to relieve work and travel stress with a rejuvenating workout, especially if you have a layover at an airport with an actual gym. lists airport gyms that offer gym equipment, a pool, cardio machines and locker rooms. At Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), you can rent workout clothes and shoes. At Logan International Airport (BOS), you can store your luggage, so you can go out for a run. Other airport gyms even offer rooftop walking/jogging track and spa facilities like steam rooms, saunas, massages and Jacuzzis. To search for airport gyms, workout clubs or fitness centers, check out before your next trip.

When in doubt, take the “lay” out of layover and get moving.