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No time for the gym? Easy exercises for the long commute

A young couple doing tai-chi as exercise

No time for the gym?! It’s no wonder. Just over 86 percent of Americans drive a car, truck or van to work, while 5 percent of Americans reported that they take public transportation. The U.S. national average commute time is a whopping 25 minutes, each way! Long commutes get in the way of all things that make humans happy — relaxation, exercise, and sex, to name a few. Time-consuming commutes chew up the day and wreak havoc on people’s physical and mental health. Recent research has linked long commutes with negative health outcomes. The car could be the ultimate place to multitask, however. No, we’re not suggesting you reply to emails, text message your friends or apply makeup – that sort of multitasking is dangerous (unless, of course, it’s from the passenger side). Rather, we’re suggesting you get a quick workout in during your commute. To help you make the most of your time on the road, here are several exercises you can do in even the most compact of cars.

  • Begin with deep breathing exercises for 2 minutes – Inhale as big as you can so that your chest and diaphragm get very large. Exhale slowly, letting out all the air in your lungs. Repeat for 2 minutes or the duration of one song on the radio. The goal of this exercise is stress-reduction. It is important to exaggerate the breath and stop before you get too relaxed. Deep breathing for a long period of time can lead to deep relaxation and sleepiness.
  • Belly Busting – While driving, pretend you are trying to zip closed a tight pair of skinny jeans. Pull your belly button in toward your spine as you try to pull your lower belly away from the waistband of your pants. Hold here, engaging your abs, or, for a more intense workout, breathe out 20 times quickly. As you breathe out, contract your lower abs even harder to pulse your abs in and out.
  • Spine Stretching – While in traffic, hold onto the steering wheel with your hands at 10:00 and 2:00 and round your back. By pulling on the steering wheel and rounding your back, you’re stretching the area in between the shoulder blades and mid-back. Take a breath here and then release.
  • Tension Tackling – While stuck at a red light, tilt your right ear down toward your right shoulder. Relax your shoulders and breathe into the left side of your neck, stretching the left side of your neck. Hold for 10 seconds. At the next light, repeat on the other side.

Once you arrive at work, here are some ideas:

  • Take the stairs when possible – Never ride the elevator for one floor. If you suffer from knee pain, always take the stairs up but take the elevator down.
  • Park farther away from the building – Although this is usually seen as a bad thing, if you park a half a mile away from your office, you will get an extra mile of walking into your schedule each day.



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