Commuters and frequent travelers commonly spend a lot of time in transit from point a to point b. After miles in the car, on a route you could drive with your eyes closed, it can be easy to zone out and lose focus behind the wheel. And if you’re one of the 128.3 million commuters in the U.S. sitting in traffic every day, the gridlock can increase stress and may have an effect on your physical and mental well-being.
According to a study detailed in CNN Health by Christine M. Hoehner of Washington University in St. Louis, long commutes are associated with “higher weight, lower fitness levels and higher blood pressure, all of which are strong predictors of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.” Whether you’re spending extended time behind the wheel for work or road tripping with friends, it’s important to remember that even the simplest activities can help reduce stress and increase alertness on the road. Here are some easy-to-remember tips and suggestions from Network Truck Insurance Services for staying focused and relaxed the next time you’re behind the wheel.
- Wrist Stretch – Extend one arm against the steering wheel. Press your fingers against the wheel and hold for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat with your other arm and hand. This exercise helps to loosen your wrists and decrease tension.
- Neck Stretch – Sit with your head upright and slowly lean your neck to the right as far as it is comfortable. Hold this position for a few seconds, and then switch sides. When you are safely stopped or at a traffic light, lean your neck forward, then backward. This movement will help release tension in your neck, shoulders and back.
- Shoulder Shrug – With your hands comfortably on the steering wheel, raise your shoulders toward your ears. Hold the shrug for a few moments and slowly release. Repeat 10 to 20 times. This exercise combats fatigue in your upper arms and shoulders, as well as reduces stress in those areas.
- The Right Support – To prevent and alleviate back pain, it’s important to support your lower spine. Keep your seat back almost perfectly upright at an angle of 90 to 110 degrees, and position your seat close enough to the steering wheel so that your elbows are bent and relaxed.
- Make the Healthy Choice – Long drives may mean on-the-go meals, but on-the-go food doesn’t need to be unhealthy. Convenience stores are offering more healthy food options to accommodate active, busy lifestyles. Choose fresh fruit, vegetables, hummus, nuts, yogurt or salads. Lean proteins and complex carbs will help you stay alert and energetic on the road. To schedule your next snack break at a Cenex® retail location, visit our trip planning tool and start snacking smart.
These quick tips will help keep you alert driving long hours, and can help reduce stress the next time you’re stuck in traffic. Keep these suggestions in mind the next time you’re behind the wheel; your body will thank you.
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