Fit for the Road

| November 01, 2011

“When I started, I could only run about half of a block. It felt like a monkey on my chest,” he says. “Slowly but surely, you keep pushing on that wall, your body breaks down the wall and it gets easier and easier.”



Highway Health Care owner Dr. Ronald Rush says what drivers should concentrate on is saving 50 or 100 calories wherever possible and being able to burn 30 or 40 extra calories as often as they can. “If you add it up, it comes out to enough calories to lose weight and feel better,” he says. “You have to have reasonable goals. If you lose 3,500 calories, you’ve lost a pound …

Expend an additional 100 or 150 calories a day, and you’re looking at losing 10 pounds a year. If you can expend a couple hundred extra calories a day, you’re looking at 30 or 40 pounds a year.”

Here are a few quick ideas for cutting and expending extra calories:

• Take an 8 oz. bottle of ice water and drink it about six to eight times a day. Drink the whole thing within a few minutes. “Water being cold has to be heated by the body. The process of water being heated burns calories,” Rush says. “You can burn about 120 or 160 calories a day just doing that.”

• “Use your rig as a piece of equipment,” Trucker Trainer Bob Perry says. “Grab a hold on the side and use your pull bar as a balance bar and use your body to push yourself and step yourself up and back down.” Five to 10 repetitions will be enough, Perry says.

• Go for a brisk 15-minute walk. “That gets your heart rate up, and it stays with you throughout the day,” says Ken Zelten, an owner-operator from Wisconsin. “Even stretching in the morning stays with you.”

• There’s nothing better than building muscle in the upper arms, says Rush, and he recommends keeping 10- or 20-pound weights in your truck to do simple upper-body workouts at stops or during downtime. “Something most people aren’t aware of is how much muscle burns,” he says. “When you don’t even use a muscle, it burns calories all day.”

• Perry says stretching and being flexible are key to overall health and can also help alleviate the lower back pain common among drivers. An important stretch, he says, is to put feet shoulder-width apart, keep knees bent, take a deep breath and let your upper body fall forward naturally. “You need to get those hamstrings and those nerves stretched out, which causes the majority of leg and back issues with those starting new exercise programs.”

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Anytime, anywhere gyms

Squeezing exercise time into an over-the-road driving schedule is compounded by constraints of location and time away from home. National gym memberships make sense for drivers, and there are a few national chains, such as 24 Hour Fitness, that offer nationwide memberships.

Snap Fitness, a gym open 24 hours per day, has partnered with Bob Perry’s Rolling Strong to build gyms at Pilot Flying J stops around the country. For drivers, the membership costs $30 a month and provides access to the Snap Fitness Rolling Strong gyms and the other 1,300 Snap Fitness gyms worldwide. The first Rolling Strong gyms will open early next year.

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