Ten-minute tips to better health

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If doing all the things you are supposed to do for good health seems too hard, consider an easy start. “When I first decided to live a healthier lifestyle, I started off by taking short walks and cutting back on calories,” says Robert Jordan, Overdrive’s September Trucker of the Month. Those short walks led to long bicycle trips. Now Jordan cycles over 2,000 miles a year. Here are some other fast-start tips:

SQUEEZE IT. Even while driving, you can do isometric exercises by squeezing muscle groups, says Nils Vesk, author of Life’s Little Toolbox. “Tense each muscle group – arms, legs, abs, chest – as hard as you can and hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Relax. Then work another muscle group. Repeat twice. Don’t forget your butt muscles! This exercise gives a positive effect on your muscles, burns energy and helps to keep you alert.”

WALK IT. If you add 2,000 steps (about a mile) each day, you can keep weight down and reduce your risk for obesity-related diseases. Walk briskly for 10 to 15 minutes and swing your arms to increase circulation and heart rate. Walking helps reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, strengthens joints and bones and improves balance and circulation.

WATER IT. Swap high sugar sodas and energy drinks for plain tap or bottled water, says pharmacist and author Barbara Morris. The amount of fluids you need varies with the level of exercise, weather and altitude conditions, but a good rule of thumb is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) per day of water or diluted juices, herbal teas and soup.

BREATHE IT. You’ll be surprised how much you can breathe away road rage and other tension. Mare Petras, certified fitness expert, offers a simple regimen: “Inhale for six counts, hold for six counts, exhale for six counts – and feel the stress melt away.” These deep, slow breaths pay off by getting plenty of oxygen to your blood, helping counter fatigue.

DOWNSIZE IT. When eating on the road, Jordan advises, “Order smaller portions and load up on larger quantities of healthy snacks, like fruits and vegetables.” This helps keep weight down and moderates that post-meal fatigue when you’re behind the wheel.

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These and other simple practices don’t take much time or energy, yet they can get you on the right track. As Jordan says, “Small steps can pay off.”

When you step outside your cab, take a few minutes to stretch key muscles. Doing so improves flexibility and strength and helps prevent injuries by increasing your range of motion.

Syndicated columnist Terra Wellington recommends these stretches. Do them slowly and only to a point of moderate stress. Hold each position several seconds:

  • Bend your knees slightly and slowly touch your toes. Rise and reach your arms above your head. Then reach one arm over your head and toward the opposite side. Then the other arm.
  • Look right, stretching your neck to the right. Repeat on the left. Raise your arms to the sky and inhale. Then lower your arms to your toes and exhale.
  • Put your arms forward and lean at 45 degrees against your truck. Lift one heel up and down, then the other, to stretch the back of your legs.
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