Motorists who drive for work, such as lorry, bus, and delivery drivers - or those who drive to clients or between sites - are exposed to the health risks of prolonged driving.
One of the health risks from occupational drivers is too much sitting down. Sedentary lifestyles and prolonged sitting can slow down metabolism, causing weaker muscles and bones.
It can also result in obesity, increasing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular events. For long-haul lorry drivers, the additional lack of control over food can also contribute to obesity, as healthy food may not always be available to them while out on the road.
While it’s impossible to avoid sitting down for a long time if driving is your occupation, drivers should be active as much as possible when they aren’t driving, in an attempt to combat this.
Studies have shown that all-day movement is just as important as going to the gym or taking part in other exercise. Some of the ways you can be more active during everyday activities include:
- Standing instead of sitting when using public transport
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Standing or walking around while talking on the phone
- Take up active hobbies such as gardening
- Stand up while doing other activities such as reading
"Yoga" For Drivers
Small exercises can combat the negative effects of being immobile for a long time as well as help keep you awake and alert during long journeys and help you feel less stressed when stuck in traffic.
Though these aren’t a substitute for proper exercise, they can make you feel revitalised and a little less stiff.
Please remember, these should only be done when the handbrake is on! (For example while you are stuck in traffic or waiting at a red light.) They include:
- Gentle neck stretches – tilt your head to one side, stretch, hold for five seconds, and repeat on both sides.
- Arm exercises – with your hands at opposite sides of the steering wheel, try to push your hands towards each other for three seconds at a time.
- Stomach muscle exercises – flex your lower and upper abdominal muscles, raise your hip and hold for 3 seconds. Repeat on both sides.
If you feel stiff after a long journey, gentle stretches can help you unwind, or even a little yoga – upward dog position can stretch your back, while a sun salutation will work your arm and leg muscles.
Mark Bower-Dyke, chairman of Be Wiser Insurance, comments:
“Small exercises and stretches can help drivers to feel less stiff, reducing the effects long-haul driving can have on the body. However, these should be practiced with caution when the vehicle is at a standstill, and should not be carried out if they are too distracting for the driver.”