Athletes taking advantage of warm weather, altitude or a change in training environment and individuals required to travel abroad for business are exposed to a number of health and performance issues. When an individual travels across multiple time zones circadian rhythms are desynchronized resulting in a syndrome know as jet-lag. Until the individual is able to readjust to the new time zone, numerous health and performance measures are impaired. Additional problems with air travel include increased susceptibility of dehydration, risk of upper respiratory tract infection, changes in eating habits, enforced inactivity and travel fatigue.
Changes to meal times, restricted food options, enforced periods of inactivity and boredom cause considerable disruption to eating habits and nutritional requirements of the travelling individual. These factors can lead to either a reduction in energy intake, excess energy intake or a substantial change in diet composition with excess fat and sugar intake. It is very easy in this situation to be tempted by poor food choices that only delay the time it takes to overcome air travel. Careful planning and preparation are fundamental to ensure minimal disruption to health and performance.
Air travel can cause dehydration due to the dry air on the aircraft, which is hard for the body to detect. Pressurised cabins and air-conditioned environments increase fluid loss from the skin and the lungs. Symptoms of dehydration include headaches and tiredness. Individuals should carry an empty water bottle in their hand luggage and ask the cabin crew to fill it up when they are on the plane to ensure fluid is available at all times.
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