These days, it seems like more and more of us are using our cars to make money. With companies like Lyft and Uber, it’s easier than ever to use your car to bring in some extra income. Not to mention postal delivery workers, truck drivers and taxi drivers. But if you’re stuck in the car all day, what can you do to stay active? Being seated in a confined area can make it difficult, but we’ve got some suggestions.
Make it a routine
If you spend long hours in the car each day, one of the most helpful ways to make sure you get in your regular physical activity is to make it a part of your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth or taking a shower. You don’t have to spend hours at the gym, just 20 minutes of walking each day can make a huge difference. So set your alarm for 20 minutes earlier, or take 20 minutes to go on a walk after dinner. Try working out at the same time every day, rather than just assuming you’ll hit the gym whenever you happen to have a free hour. Scheduling your workout at a regular time each day will make it something you do almost automatically — not something you have to think about or find additional time for.
When you’re not actively driving, pull over and take a few minutes to get out of the car, stretch, and walk around. If you’re waiting for your next client, get out and stretch until they get there. If you drive long distances, like a truck driver, be sure to take adequate breaks. When you stop to use the restroom, take an extra minute or two to do some jumping jacks, or park in the back of the lot to give yourself the chance to do a little more walking. Yes, those who drive for a living are often on tight schedules. But within that schedule, see if you can find a few minutes here and there to get in a little extra movement.
Make use of your time off
During the weekends or other days that you have off, try to set aside large chunks of time for physical activity. If you go on 20-minute walks during the week, see if you can set aside 40 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays. Or schedule active recreation — go on a bike ride with a friend, or take your kids to play in the park. Work schedules can be demanding, but making the most of your days off can go a long way toward improving your overall health.
Take advantage of red lights
Of course, you can’t actually get out of the car to walk around during red lights. But since it gives your eyes a break from the road, you can take that time to stretch your arms and legs (while still holding the brake pedal, of course). You can also do exercises, like pelvic tilts, in your seat. Gently arch your lower back, and slowly pull your hips in under your stomach, and hold it for two to four seconds, and repeat until the light turns. This will flex your abs, and can help you to feel less stiff after long periods of sitting. If you notice any pain or discomfort, stop.
When you’re on the road, it’s not always easy to find healthy food, and often the temptation is to just stop at whatever fast food restaurant you happen to pass. Instead, try to be sure you have a healthy lunch and snacks on hand. Not only does a healthy diet have its own health benefits, but it is also likely to help you feel more vibrant and less sluggish (think of the way you feel after a fast food hamburger and fries – probably not exactly vibrant). And that, in turn, may make it at least a little easier to feel motivated to exercise at the end of the work day.
Work out where you’re at
If you go home at the end of the day, you might not have this issue — but if you’re a long-distance truck driver, it may be difficult to find a suitable location to workout. Not only are you unlikely to find a gym, but there might not even be a safe road to go walking on. In that case, bring along resistance bands, jump ropes and the like, and you’ll be able to workout anywhere.
Sitting in an office all day can make it difficult to maintain an active lifestyle. And in many ways, driving for a living can pose an even greater challenge. But there are steps you can take to avoid the negative health effects of a sedentary lifestyle. It may take some extra planning, but you can stay healthy and active, even if you spend your days in the car.
— Sarah Cooke