How to Embarrass Your Friends (and Yourself) at the Airport

A few months ago I had the honor of traveling to Indianapolis from the east coast to present a poster with a few of my classmates on Tai Chi. Needless to say, I had not been in an airport in a long time (a few years at least). From what I saw, there was a decent amount of people moving around, but there was a lot more people sitting down and waiting for their next plane. Being who I am, I decided to investigate this tragedy by just doing a few exercises with the equipment available (aka a chair, some open space, a people mover, my luggage, and some human obstacles). Let’s be honest, if you’re about to be on a flight for a few hours, why do you want to be sitting for even longer!? Get up and get moving! Who cares if you end up sitting in the middle seat and you forgot to put on deodorant that day…

So here is what I did, with a few videos available for your convenience:

Cardio: There’s so much space to walk in an airport! If you are there super early or have a long layover – why not get your cardio in? Bring your luggage as an added bonus for some extra calories to burn!
If you have about 30 minutes to kill, try walking up and back down a hallway, alternating your luggage in your hand if you are pulling/carrying it with you. Try to walk at a pace that is a little faster than you would normally walk in order to bring up your heart rate appropriately.
Only have 10 minutes that you’re willing to spend? Perfect. Try some interval walking! You might look a little funny, but are you really going to see any of these people again? If you’re with your friends or family, they will still love you after… hopefully. Try walking at a very quick pace for about 60 seconds, then at a normal pace for about 75 seconds. Then repeat! (This type of interval training actually has been shown to improve your oxidative capacity of your muscles, your overall athletic performance, and your VO2 max – all while devoting less time than you would have to for a longer duration, endurance-style training. (1) There is still much research to be done in this area, but it looks promising!!)

Lol? Sorry, couldn’t help myself…

Lower Body: There are SO many things you can do here – but I think the better question is what are YOU willing to do in public? 😉 For me, I like to embarrass my friends and they know that. I also don’t get embarrassed too easily, so it all works out. Depending on what you are trying to accomplish (strengthening vs endurance) will depend on what luggage you have/want to work out with vs if you just do this without resistance. I kind of mixed it up, so feel free to go until it burns, and then at least another set! Generally for this, I tried to do at least 30 reps of everything (3×10) to promote more muscular endurance, pending time.

Step-ups/Heel taps – so I found this open set of chairs, which were a little squishy, but that’s okay! Since it was a little unstable, it required my muscles to work harder to stabilize my legs as I performed each activity. Just think about the difference of doing squats on a stable surface vs unstable (bosu, foam/airex, squishy pillow) – it changes everything!

The heel taps really help to work your thighs and hips. Try to make sure you’re doing this slowly with control for the best benefits.

Arms – So I just did basic things like some tricep dips on the chair as well as push-ups off the chair. Feel free to mix it up however you’d like, of course! Your legs need a little rest ya know!?

Upper body dynamic stretching will be my next post 🙂
Have a great day!


1) Little et al: “A practical model of low-volume high-intensity
interval training induces mitochondrial biogenesis in human
skeletal muscle: potential mechanisms”, 2010.

Published by Jennifer Palmer PT, DPT

Instagram: @thesleepdpt Twitter: @thesleepdpt Facebook: The Sleep DPT Facebook Group: The Sleep DPT & Friends

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