What’s the Best Way to Deal With Jet Lag?

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.

February 25, 2020
An illustration of a man jogging within a clock with a world map background

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.

An illustration of captain-approved layover climbs

Captain–approved Layover Climbs

  1. Grouse Mountain, North Vancouver Elevation gain: 853 m

  2. Victoria Peak, Hong Kong Elevation gain: 554 m

  3. Camelback Mountain, Scottsdale, Arizona Elevation gain: 407 m

  4. Masada Snake Path, Dead Sea, Israel Elevation gain: 350 m

  5. CN Tower Observation Deck, Toronto Elevation gain: 346 m

  6. Signal Hill, St. John’s Elevation gain: 143 m

Good Sports

  • The Doug Vann Tournament This long–standing pilot hockey event is held in recognition of a pilot who died of a heart attack at age 44. Proceeds benefit the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and this year it took place in Toronto.

  • Runway Run For a pilot to run on a runway is a treat. Every September, Toronto Pearson International Airport shuts down an active runway for 2,200 participants to run or walk a 2K or 5K charity race. My fastest time: 22:40.

  • ACPA Golf Tournament The Air Canada Pilots Association held its 60th annual golf gathering last November at the Revere Golf Course in Las Vegas, with about 130 active and retired members participating.

Portrait of Air Canada's Captain Doug Morris
Photo: Reynard Li

Doug Morris is an author, meteorologist, instructor and Air Canada captain on the Boeing 787.