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"Exercise every 15 minutes", DVT expert warns holidaymakers

With the big summer getaway in full swing, an exercise scientist at London South Bank University is advising air travellers to stretch their legs every 15 minutes – regardless of how long they are flying – to prevent deep vein thrombosis.

Experiments conducted by Steve Hunter at the University have shown that sitting still for even one hour can cause a decrease in blood velocity, which could lead to a pooling of blood in the lower legs and an increased risk of DVT. Mr Hunter also warns that immobility when travelling by coach and car could cause similar problems.

A series of lab-controlled experiments found that introducing three five-minute exercises during a 60-minute period increased blood velocity by 20 per cent, thus reducing the risk of DVT. “Participants using a foot pump, which are readily available to the public, were found to have a much higher blood velocity and better flow compared to those who didn’t,” Mr Hunter said. “What this shows is that exercising regularly is vital, regardless of whether the flight is long or short-haul.”

Mr Hunter, who has been researching the impact of exercise on blood flow for two years, added that coach and car travellers were also susceptible. “It doesn’t just occur in-flight, it can happen during any instance where people are sitting still for long periods,” he said. “I would advise everybody to think about exercising every 15 minutes, even if it’s just pushing up to tip toes to work the calf muscles, because this can make all the difference. Drinking lots of water is also important.”

Phil Smith | alfa
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