Mini workouts can improve circulation, flexibility and health.
Your body was made to move, but you can’t do much behind the wheel of a truck. Yet even just pausing for 10 minutes every time you stop to stretch and breathe can have a lasting impact on your energy, health and attitude.
The recommended daily exercise is 30 to 45 minutes of cardiovascular workout every day, which means that your heart rate should be elevated to the corresponding calorie-burning rate for your age and weight.
Since we can’t all jump on an exercise machine or jog three miles with our hectic and unpredictable schedules, it’s time to start thinking about ways to take care of your body on the road and for the rest of your life. Simple in-cab stretches and exercises are a great place to start. Not only are they easy, but you also don’t have to buy a lot of fancy equipment and spandex. All you need is a floor, a wall, a chair and, if you really want to get into it, a large exercise ball. You can find an exercise ball for only a few dollars at any store like Wal-Mart or Target. Just blow it up with an air pump and get going.
The benefits of stretching and simple exercise movements include improved circulation and flexibility, better posture – which is helpful to prevent the hunched-over position as you get older – stress relief and better coordination. Hold each stretch for 10 or more seconds, paying special attention to slow, relaxed breathing. Don’t bounce or pull your muscles because this can cause small tears in the muscle.
Try to do a stretch and exercise routine at least three times a week, and do a few simple stretches every time you step out of your truck. There are hundreds of basic stretching and exercise videos for relaxation and flexibility, so pick one up if you want some one-on-one instruction. A great one to try is Tamilee Webb’s Total Stretch for Beginners, which consists of three 10-minute stretches that are easy to do. Buy it online at www.amazon.com.
The following stretches can be done as a routine or alone. Mix them up to create your own personal stretch routine, and vary it week by week. The stretches cover your neck, back, shoulders, arms, legs and ankles. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water for energy and healthy blood flow.
Back and shoulders
These stretches are a great way to warm up before exercise or to relieve tension after a long day, but any exercise should be combined with cardiovascular work and a healthy diet. Please consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Portable in-cab exercise equipment
A folding bicycle is a good way to pack a lot of exercise into a small space. Most models unfold in seconds, and they can weigh as little as 19 pounds, perfect for the limited space of the truck cab. Prices range from about $300 to as much as $3,000, depending on the bike you want. Folding bikes come in every style from city cruiser to mountain bike. The Better Bicycle Company’s Dahon Jack ($399.95, www.dahon.com) is a rugged 7-speed city bike that folds in five seconds. Montague’s CX Comfort Bike ($449, www.montagueco.com) is a full-size bike with a wider seat, and it features the same folding mechanism and frame as the company’s military paratrooper bike. Bike Friday’s Pocket Tourist ($698, www.bikefriday.com) is a simple touring and city bike that weighs less than 27 pounds. Check out the websites for more information on how the bikes fold and where to buy them.
Balls and Mats
For alternative exercises and a great way to stretch, exercise balls are the way to go. The stability balls usually range from 30 cm to 75cm and larger, depending on your height. Exercise balls may vary depending on the store, and if in doubt, bigger is better. You should be able to sit comfortably on the ball with your knees and hips making a 90 degree angle or higher. To purchase a ball and coordinating stability ball programs, check out the Resist-A-Ball website at www.resistaball.com. To purchase a ball and a lot of other fun recreation equipment, go to the Shape Up Shop at www.shapupshop.com, click on “Fitness” and then click on “Exercise balls.”
A soft yoga mat creates a comfortable area to stretch and exercise. Check out the Shape Up Shop online or any major store like Target or Wal-Mart.
Weights and Resistance Bands
On top of daily cardiovascular exercise, weight training is important to strengthen muscles and increase your metabolism. A set of free weights and several resistance bands are portable and easy to use on the road. For weights, buy one set of dumbbells with adjustable weight plates that are easy to slide on and off. For resistance bands, buy two or three different colors that indicate varied resistance for a light or heavy workout. You can find both weights and resistance bands at any large store, or shop online at Amazon or the Shape Up Shop at www.shapupshop.com.
Jumping rope is one of the best cardiovascular exercises around. Just a 10-minute jump every day can give you more energy and a better disposition. Invest in a strong jump rope made from a material other than plastic, such as real rope, because plastic has a tendency to break. Plus, plastic will really hurt the first few times you mess up and slap yourself in the shins.
The Truck Gym
This piece of equipment attaches directly to the passenger seat or driver seat of your truck with no drilling, just simple screws that snap into place. The Truck Gym comes with resistance bands that allow you to do leg, arm and abdominal workouts with 30 pounds of resistance. For purchasing information, go the Truck Gym website at www.thetruckgym.com.