Clients of mine travelled to Florida by car to this year. Before heading off they asked my advice on what to do to minimize the body stiffness that comes with driving for long periods. They returned with a story about a stranger approaching them offering help to push their car. The car was fine. They had their hands on the trunk of the car do their calf stretches. The stranger was relieved to hear that and commented, “never seen an Audi that needed a push”.
Driving is hard on our bodies. No matter how far you’re going it adds to your daily “sitting” time. Research links sitting for long periods with a variety of health concerns including increased blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and overall body soreness. The frustrations of traffic or bad weather increase anxiety so the perils of that can be put on the list as well.
Many, many years ago I drove from Ontario to British Columbia with a friend and we agreed that we’d switch drivers every two hours whether we were tired or not. That worked unbelievably well. It meant that the driver didn’t get overly tired, and that we got out of the car and stood up at regular intervals. It turns out it was both a safe and healthy option. That was long before sitting was deemed a disease.
If you have some long drives in your future here are some ideas for you to incorporate:
- Stop every two hours to walk and stretch, especially your lower body (please contact me for a list of stretches to do).
- Drink water to stay hydrated. This will keep you more alert and it will give you a reason to stop regularly.
- Pack healthy snacks that you can eat at your rest stops. Staying nourished keeps you alert. Sliced up apples and some nuts are a great choice.
The other part of the equation is when you get to your destination. Be sure to move around before you pull the suitcases from the vehicle. Many a vacation has been ruined by a strained back that was the result of grabbing a heavy bag after being idle for too long. Any kind of movement will get the blood flowing and the muscles/joints mobile again. I appreciate doing Jumping Jacks at the gas station make look kind of weird but if enough of us start doing it, it will become the norm.
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