The Best Exercises to Do at the Airport

When you’re in the midst of the busy holiday season, it can be hard to squeeze in a workout. Between family time and social gatherings to hours spent traveling, you often have to skip your favorite exercises classes or gym session for a couple of weeks.

And sadly, those weeks spent more sedentary than usual can lead to some stress and weight gain (those holiday cocktails and snacks don’t help). Luckily though, you can make time to break a sweat when you’re at the airport. This way, you can feel great boarding your plane, knowing that you found a few minutes to do something wonderful for your body and mind without jeopardizing your holiday plans.

Try a few rounds of these exercises the next time your plane is delayed or you’ve got some time to spare.

Browse Your Airport Options

First off, some airports have designated areas to get a workout in. “There are tons of airports throughout the US that have full gyms, workout studios and even meditation rooms,” says Katie Dunlop, personal trainer and founder of Love Sweat Fitness.

“Next time you have a long layover, try hitting up one of these amazing spaces. Exercising will increase endorphins, reducing the stress from travel, and can help reduce the effects of jet lag from flying too so it’s a win-win,” she says.

San Diego International Airport has the Spirit of Silence Meditation Room; San Francisco International Airport has a Yoga Room. O’Hare International Airport has a full gym and steam room in the Hilton in terminal (who would’ve thought that??), and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport has a Yoga Studio.

And if you are going outside the US you can find some amazing in-airport gyms in Dubai, Munich, and Vancouver, she says.

Do Tricep Dips

Triceps are hard to work regularly, so taking some time in an airport to really target this underused area can help you tone. And you can do it right in your chair at the gate, says Dunlop.

Place your hands on the edge of a seat and lower your hips off. Keep your arms straight behind you and raise your hips. Bend your elbows to lower yourself down to the floor until elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Press into your palms to straighten arms and come back to starting position. Do 15 reps and repeat this movement for a few rounds.

Single Leg Squats

Squats will fire up your lower body and can be done really anywhere, says Dunlop. You can do leg squats at your gate, while waiting online at security or for a bathroom, or in a café while waiting for your food to arrive.

Stand with feet hip-width apart and weight in your heels. Keep your chest lifted and core upright as you lift right foot off the ground. Flex your right foot and sit your hips back and down toward your chair. Lower down as if sitting in the chair, then push through the heel of your stationary left leg. Squeeze your glutes to come back to standing position, repeat, and then switch sides. Do 10 reps each side for a few rounds.

Walking Lunges

No equipment needed here, and if there’s anything an airport is known for, it’s the space. There’s tons of room to move around, says Dunlop. Start standing with feet hip-width apart and step forward with your right foot, lowering into a lunge. Allow the front knee to bend to 90 degrees. Push through the front heel to stand, bringing the left leg to meet the right. Then step forward with the left leg, alternating side-to-side as you move. Aim for 20 lunges at a time.

Chair Step-Ups

Grab a chair at your gate and do some step-ups to work your booty and legs. Stand up straight with feet hip-width apart and face a chair (or bench). Step your right foot fully on the chair with your knee at a 90-degree angle. Pushing through your right leg, bring your left leg up and onto the chair.

Stand up straight with both feet completely on the chair. Then lower your left leg, and then the right leg, and repeat the movement, starting with your left leg for the second time. You’ll alternate each round. Do 12 reps per side and aim for a few rounds.


Push-ups are easy to do on any surface, so find some space at the airport and put those arms to work. Start in full plank position, hands placed on the edge of your chair. Keep your core upright and inhale as your lower your chest to the chair. Hover slightly, making sure your arms and elbows stay by your sides. When you have gone as far down as you can go, exhale, and press back up. Repeat lowering and pushing back up for ten rounds of push-ups.


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About Isadora Baum

Isadora Baum is a freelance writer, author, and certified health coach. She writes for various magazines, such as Cooking Light, SHAPE, Men's Health, Women's Health, Health, Prevention, POPSUGAR, Runner's World, Bustle, and more. She is also the author of the book "5-Minute Energy." She can't resist a good sample, a killer margarita, a new HIIT class, or an easy laugh. Beyond magazines, she helps grow businesses through blogging and content marketing strategy.