ANY business executive who travels as part of their job will be all too aware of the debilitating effects of jet lag, the disorientation, discomfort and general lassitude it can produce. They will also be aware of that jet lag can have severely detrimental effects on their business performance, particularly if, as is often the case, they have to participate in critical meetings soon after completing a long and tiring flight. The impact on the body of rapidly crossing several time zones can never be completely negated? But there are ways of minimising the effects of long-haul flights. Preparation for a comfortable flight should start well before leaving for the airport. As rich or fatty foods are hard to digest at the best of times, they should be avoided, as should excessive alcohol intake as it will remain in the system for a long time. Brisk exercise before the flight will help to counteract the enforced inactivity on board, although walking up and down the aisle may alleviate the stiffness caused by sitting for up to 12 hours. This, however, may not be practical on a crowded flight. If the whole trip is for about 48 hours, it is recommended that the traveller remains on 'home' time, and attempts to keep to that routine wherever possible. The body should be 're-synced' to the time of the destination as quickly as possible however, if the trip is to last more than a couple of days. This can start with setting one's watch to the new local time, even before the plane takes off, so that the mind can adjust before the body reaches its destination. On board, there are several well-documented ways of ensuring that a long flight does not require a long recovery period. Rich foods and alcohol, even in amounts that would be considered modest on the ground, have an exaggerated effect in the confines of an aircraft cabin at altitude and should be avoided. Despite the obvious restrictions of remaining seated for long periods, there are many ways of improving your sense of well-being during a flight. Exercises to loosen joints which become swollen at altitude, stretching cramped muscles, relaxation and deep breathing are all known to be helpful in combatting jet lag. Examples are regularly detailed in in-flight magazines. Extensive research has been carried out by major airlines into the causes and effects of jet lag, particularly since it hits flight crews and cabin staff as much as passengers. Many carriers provide programmes to combat jet lag aimed specifically at travellers concerned with arriving fit and alert and ready for business. These offer light, easily digestible food, no alcohol and a high intake of water or fruit juices. Apart from being well-balanced, these menus help to reduce dehydration brought about by the air conditioning. Modern aircraft have the cabin air at a slightly reduced pressure and it is artificially dry. So, as well as affecting the sensitivity of the body to some foods and drinks, it can have a noticeable effect on the rest of the body. Dry itchy skin, sore and irritated eyes are familiar sensations after a long flight, but may be reduced, or overcome, by the application of moisturising lotions at regular intervals. On arrival, there are still more steps that can be taken to reduce the amount of jet lag experienced. Research has shown that exposure to light, particularly daylight, at certain times of day can aid acclimatisation to local conditions. When the journey has been westward, Hongkong to London for example, as much bright sunlight as possible should be sampled soon after arrival. Trips heading east will be more easily tolerated by delaying this exposure until later in the day of your arrival. A hot bath or shower and a comfortable bed are also highly recommended, where possible, to leave you rested and prepared for the rigours of a working trip.