The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio per week, along with two or more full-body strength training sessions. If this amount of activity feels overwhelming, the guidelines add that doing any physical activity offers health benefits.
Just as construction workers benefit from doing side bends and hamstring stretches, and nurses benefit from squats and lunges, there are a few exercises that are perfect for truck drivers. Here are five to consider, as well as the advantages they provide.
Running or walking
The great thing about running and walking is that you can do them anywhere. All you need is a pair of athletic shoes and you are good to go. Both of these activities can get your heart rate going, which is beneficial for cardiovascular health. You also tend to feel better mentally after a walk or a run.
And if you do these cardio activities outside, you can increase your vitamin D levels naturally thanks to the sun’s rays. Vitamin D helps keep your bones and muscles strong. It also bolsters your immune system, making it more resilient against the latest bug or cold.
Whenever you stop for a break or lunch, take a little walk, run or jog around the area first. Hitting the pavement or trails after a long day behind the wheel is also a good way to get rid of the stress that has built up while on the road.
It’s not uncommon for drivers to hold tension in the shoulder area. If this tension continues to build without being released, you may notice tightness or tenderness in this area. This can make the workday feel even longer.
When at a stoplight or waiting for your trailer to be unloaded, do a couple of shoulder shrugs. Sit upright in your seat and pull your shoulders back and down. Then lift the shoulders toward your ears, as if someone asked you a question and you don’t know the answer. Hold for a few seconds before lowering the shoulders back down. Do this a couple of times to get your shoulders to relax.
Just as the shoulders can get tight and tense when driving all day, resulting in pain and stiffness, the same is true for your hands. Your hands are constantly engaged as a trucker, whether holding the wheel, assisting with a turn or shifting the truck. Take a few minutes several times a day to give them a bit of relief.
One hand stretch to try is pulling the top of the fingers back toward your body, holding them in this position for a few seconds. Another is to make a fist, then release the fist, straighten your fingers and try to extend and spread the fingers as much as possible. Do this a couple of times every so often to get your hand muscles to relax.
The stronger your upper arms, the easier it becomes to use them throughout the day. Strong arms are better able to support all the movements associated with driving a truck, from continuously operating the steering wheel to properly securing the load with tiedown straps.
Keep a dumbbell in your cab and do a few biceps curls during your stops. Lift the weight toward your shoulder, hold it briefly in this position, then lower the weight back down until your elbow is at a 90-degree angle. Just be sure to do both sides so one arm doesn’t get bigger than the other.
Spend all day in a sitting position and you’ll likely feel it in your legs. This is partly due to the blood flow being restricted to the lower body after long periods spent in one position. You can get the blood flowing again by doing a few squats when you get out of the truck.
When doing squats, imagine that you are about to sit back and down onto a chair. Lower your body while keeping your back straight. This exercise is also good for building core strength, which helps support good posture when spending a lot of time behind the wheel.
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