From the Flight Deck with Captain Doug: Fit for Flight
Mar 01, 2020

People often ask me how I deal with jet lag. One word: exercise! I pack my gym gear on every flight assignment, but even a brisk walk helps break through lethargy. I can recommend biking across the Golden Gate Bridge, jogging along the Rhine River, swimming in the Dead Sea, kayaking the Mediterranean, golfing in Gander, Newfoundland, windsurfing in Cancún – or a gym workout anywhere in the world.

Pilots must pass a medical every year (six months for the 60+ set), so it is important to stay fit: It helps strengthen the heart, wards off diabetes, reduces stress and fights jet lag and fatigue.

For me, it’s simply essential. Air Canada encourages employees to share fun in sporting, cultural and recreational activities in a social setting through Air Canada’s Recreation Association. And, the employees organize hockey leagues, golf tournaments, biking excursions and even charity runs. (Speaking of charity: In 2016, I reached the top of the CN Tower in 17:13, to benefit the World Wildlife Fund.) I play tennis, sail, hack my way around a golf course and I can still get down a ski hill. But there are hiccups: Three years ago, I broke my leg playing summer hockey. (I recovered in just a few months.)

I love to set myself a challenge, such as an intercontinental triathlon. Recently I hiked the Elephant Mountain Trail in Taipei, Taiwan, captained a 12-hour flight to Vancouver and then climbed Grouse Mountain, all in the same day. Not every pilot is as active as me, but staying on the move is imperative for me to ward off jet lag and stay on top of my game when flying.