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How Pilots Stay Healthy

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Pilots are often imagined to lead glamorous lives filled with every luxury available. We often see pilots strolling leisurely through the airports looking relaxed in their neatly pressed uniforms. But it takes a lot of training and practice to become a pilot. Even when a pilot has made it to the major airlines, they are required to continue their education and are tested on the specifics of each new aircraft. Commercial pilots have a tremendous amount of responsibility since they can be transporting hundreds of people at one time. Because of this, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires pilots to be in good health and submit to an annual medical checkup. High blood pressure, eye problems, and a number of other common ailments can derail a pilot’s career if not managed. To complicate matters, they are sitting for long periods of the day. A pilot needs to find ways during the workday to maintain optimum health. Here are some ways pilots stay healthy.

Pack a Lunch
It’s not always easy to maintain a healthy diet while spending a significant portion of the day in the airport. Airport food has improved, though it still is laden with fat, carbs, salt, and sugar. Even those with the best willpower can be tempted by the smorgasbord of fast food conveniently available. Those pilots who do best with their diet find ways to pack a lunch and plenty of healthy snacks to carry with them. They fill up on raw vegetables and mix their own power drinks, such as those with lots of immune support like green powder. Immune support is vital since airports are transportation hubs and have thousands of people passing through each day. The healthiest pilots pack their own food and beverages.

Get Daily Exercise
Sitting all day has been proven to be unhealthy. It affects weight, the heart, and blood pressure. When in the cockpit, there is little opportunity to get up and move around. This can be one of the unhealthiest aspects of the job. Those pilots that value their health walk the airports during short layovers. And for the longer layovers, such as a day or more, they visit the hotel gyms or take walking tours of the city.

Sleep Well
Pilots have long days away from home to travel to their base location, performing the necessary prep work, and the actual time in the air. It can be hard to get adequate sleep in hotels. The healthiest pilots carry sleep aids with them. They may have eye masks, white noise apps on their phones, earplugs, and lavender-scented oils. Lavender helps induce calm and sleep. Some bring herbal teas specially crafted for sleep. Others travel with their favorite pillow, choosing not to rely on the hotel's style, which may be too thick, too thin, too hard, or soft.

Know When to Say No
Traveling with a crew of people from the same company can be fun. When everyone is housed in the same hotel or resort, it is easy to have a few too many drinks and perhaps overeat while socializing. The FAA has established the number of hours that pilots must abstain from alcohol before flying, but equally as dangerous are the effects of alcohol and processed foods on health. Alcohol causes dehydration which can cause more severe jet lag. It also can cause sleep issues. Healthy pilots have learned when to say no to socializing and instead work out or take a walk.
It doesn’t seem like it, but flying airplanes can be unhealthy if the pilot does not pay particular attention to maintaining optimum health through diet and exercise. Though the life of a pilot can be glamorous with traveling to exotic locales and staying in five-star resorts paid for by the company, pilots, just like the rest of the population, need to tend to their health. In the pilot's case, their job depends on it.

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