Ask anyone about the biggest barrier to getting in better shape, and most will tell you: finding the time. As we try to balance demanding work schedules with the ongoing struggle to have a social life, setting aside time to go to the gym can be a challenge. Even setting aside thirty minutes for our exercise bike or elliptic can seem like too much after a long commute.
So how can we take sustainable action toward getting healthier? For one, we can embrace small, sustainable steps. Maybe you don’t have time to hit the gym or treadmill as often as you’d like. But you probably have time to do a few quick exercises while you’re at a stoplight or waiting in traffic. Here are a few exercises that can be done anywhere: at your home, office, and yes, in the car.
A Word on Safety
Before you start, remember to always put the safety of yourself and others before any exercise. Don’t work out behind the wheel if it would put anyone in danger. It may seem obvious, but statistics don’t lie. According to this auto insurance report, distracted driving presents a real danger to yourself, other drivers, and your insurance rate: your premiums could rise by anywhere from 16 to 40 percent if you’re caught driving while distracted.
1. Neck Stretches
Even if there’s no time for anything else, a few simple neck exercises can feel amazing and get your commute off to a great start. Simply turn your neck to one side, hold for five seconds, and then repeat. Do this a few times. A great follow-up: straighten your back and lower your chin to your chest so you can feel the stretch in your neck and shoulders. Hold for five seconds, then repeat.
2. Bicep Curls
Want to build some muscle tone while you wait in traffic? Keep a couple of dumbbells in the car — either in the dashboard compartment, under the seat, or wherever they’re handy and won’t roll around. Get in a few reps while you’re waiting to get moving again.
3. Band Exercises
Another great piece of equipment to bring along on a commute or long drive: resistance bands. Many resistance band exercises, such as the face pull or sitting band row, can be done in the confines of a car. Just make certain to follow the instructions that accompany the bands, and always put safety first!
4. Work the Glutes
If you work in an office (or at home), you’ve probably already heard of (or done) seated exercises. Next time you’re on the highway and listening to the radio or your Spotify playlist, try squeezing your glutes — flex one buttock, hold for five seconds, then alternate. Do this for a song or two (or three) and you have a workout of your glutes.
5. Simple Ab Exercises
You can do the same thing for your abs while in traffic. Just breathe out, squeeze your abs for about sixty seconds, release for ten to fifteen seconds, then repeat. Do this as often as you’re able. This exercise, like the glutes exercise, is simple enough to do while driving — just be mindful of the road and don’t get distracted.
6. Spine Rotation
Next time you’re at a standstill during rush our traffic (or at that long light), give this exercise a try. Take a deep breath, then turn to your left, reaching your right hand across your body. Hold this position for five seconds, then turn the other direction. Make sure to turn your head as you rotate (so don’t do this while in motion, obviously). You’ll feel less tense afterward, and your drive home will be that much more pleasant.
7. Strengthen the Forearms
Want to build up some forearm strength while you’re sitting in the car? A gripper or tennis ball is a great way to relieve some stress while you get some tone in your forearms. Although it’s not a legal requirement to keep both hands on the wheel, it’s still good safety practice, so maybe keep this one in reserve for those long lights.
8. Just Breathe
Remember, if you’re low on motivation, or just want to take a small step toward getting in better shape, you can just take a deep breath. A good, deep breath opens up your lungs, gets oxygen to your body, and can be a great stress reliever. It won’t burn calories or sculpt your abs, but it will make you feel better — and that’s never a bad thing.
Doing exercises in your car won’t replace a high-intensity gym session or a serious one-on-one with your elliptical machine. But doing small exercises whenever you can is a great habit to build, and will have a real effect on your health when done consistently. Just remember to keep your eyes on the road!
Image credit: https://www.wikihow.com/Do-Exercises-in-the-Car