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(But probably aren't.)

Perri Ormont Blumberg
May 25, 2018
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Summer travel is around the corner. And whether your itinerary will have you glamping by the beach or road-tripping to a National Park, many Americans will be boarding a plane to head to their destinations.

And while you're flying along safely at cruising altitude, here's one important thing to do every hour: Take a stretching break.

As Reader's Digest reports, doing so is a smart move for your health: "You can help avoid blood clots and even swollen ankles by pointing and flexing your feet every so often and getting up to pace every half-hour to an hour, recommends Ayurvedic doctor Nancy Lonsdorf, MD, author of A Woman’s Best Medicine. While you’re up, alternate bending your knees and rising up onto your toes to boost circulation throughout the legs."

For bonus points, Jeff Brannigan, director of programming at Stretch*d, a stretching-only wellness studio in New York City, recommends the following three stretches for long flights.

The Trap Tap (Trapezius)

"Carrying luggage, bringing kids through the airport and lifting your carry-on into the overhead bin is enough to overtire your traps – the muscles on the tops of the shoulders," notes Brannigan.

"Stand or sit with your feet slightly apart and your arms at your sides. Lift one arm, with the elbow bent, and raise it across your chest over the opposite shoulder until your hand reaches down your back (like you’re giving yourself a pat on the back). Use the other hand to give a gentle assist at the elbow at the end of the movement. Keep your torso still and resist the temptation to hike up your shoulder. Hold each tap for two-to-three seconds and release. Repeat 10 times for a full set," says Brannigan.

The “Maybe” Neck Stretch

"The 'maybe' neck stretch involves looking straight ahead and lowering your ear straight down toward your shoulder. You can assist your head very gently down with your hand. Be certain to keep your shoulders down and your body still," says Brannigan. Start with 10-12 reps to the right, then 10-12 reps to the left. This stretch will feel great for anyone who stares at a screen for long periods of time or tries to sleep on the plane (that blowup neck pillow can only do so much!)," explains Brannigan.

The Figure Four (Medial Hip Rotator)

"Sitting in planes, trains and automobiles can get our hip flexors extra tight. Sit up with your back straight with both feet flat on the floor. Take the foot of one leg on top of the thigh of the opposite leg, resting your ankle just over the knee," says Brannigan. "Gently press your knee down towards the ground with the hand on the same side. You can use the other hand to grasp the foot to stabilize. Repeat 10 times, hold two-to-three seconds."

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Ah, we feel better just reading about these simple moves. Remember, a few stretches like the ideas above and a quick walk can make a big difference — you don't need to be a yogi