Being stuck in traffic, at a red light, or on a long drive can be trying for your body and your mind. Often you will start to feel a little restless or antsy, at which point a little physical activity can be very helpful.
Exercising in your vehicle serves many purposes. It’s a productive way to use time that you’d otherwise be wasting, and helps you stay loose and awake, both of which are very important when you’re driving.
The exercises suggested below range from mild stretches to more difficult movements. You should only do them when your car is stopped. Wait for a traffic jam, red light, or stop sign to exercise or, if need be, briefly pull over to the side of the road. You should never do physical exercises while driving a moving car.
Part 1 of 3: How to stretch in your car
Step 1: Stretch your jaw. To exercise your jaw, open your mouth fully, but focus on moving the jaw up and down, rather than stretching it wide.
Close your mouth slowly, and repeat the process five times.
This should look and feel like an exaggerated version of chewing gum, and will help relax your face muscles, and wake you up.
Step 2: Stretch your neck. To stretch your neck without hurting yourself, slowly roll your head towards either shoulder, while still keeping your eyes forward on the road.
Hold your head for a few seconds, then slowly return it to an upright position, and repeat the process on the other side. Stretch each side of the neck five times.
- Tip: Only stretch your neck as far as is easy and comfortable. If you are in any pain at all, return your head to the upright position.
Step 3: Stretch your calves. This exercise is for passengers only as it involves hooking your toes under the passenger dash. Push your heel away from you and stretch out your calf muscles.
Step 4: Roll your shoulders. Raise your shoulders in a “shrug” movement to loosen your shoulder, back, and neck muscles. Raise and lower your shoulders as many times as it feels comfortable.
This exercise is a lot more effective if you wear a weight vest for resistance while you’re raising your shoulder.
Part 2 of 3: How to work your core in your car
- Rubber ball (small)
- Tennis ball
Step 1: Work out your core. Start this exercise by sitting upright in your seat, with a straight back.
Breathe in and pull in your stomach, tightening the muscles.
Hold this position for 5 seconds, then breathe out and relax your core muscles.
Do 5 sets of this exercise.
This exercise not only works out your core and your abdomen, but also relaxes your back, which makes you more comfortable and safe while driving.
Tip: When doing this exercise, be sure to adjust your seat to a comfortable position. If your seat won't adjust, have it inspected by a certified mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic.
Warning: There are no lower body exercises that you should do while driving your vehicle. Always wait until you are outside of the car to exercise your legs or knees, as you need your lower body to easily access the pedals at all times.
Step 2: Squeeze your abs. Push against the roof of your car with your arms and squeeze your abs. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat as many times as possible.
This strengthens the arms, shoulders, back, and core at the same time.
Step 3: Work your thighs. Put a tennis or small rubber ball between your knees and squeeze with your inner thighs, holding a few seconds with each contraction.
Do 2 sets to start.
Step 4: Work your chest and shoulders. Use a tennis ball to work your upper body.
Place it between your palms and raise your elbows out to the side. Push your palms towards each other.
Do 2 sets of 15 repetitions.
Part 3 of 3: How to work your muscles in your car
Step 1: Tricep dips. Push down on your arm rests and try to raise your body off the seat.
Hold for 5 to 10 seconds while squeezing the backs of your upper arms.
- Warning: This should only done while parked as it requires your feet to be taken off the pedals.
Step 2: Chest fly. Hold your steering wheel at 9 and 3 o’clock and have your palms face inwards. Push your hands toward one another on the wheel while squeezing your chest muscles.
Hold for 5 to 10 seconds.
Step 3: Back row. Put your hands at 9 and 3 o’clock on the steering wheel and engage your back muscles while pulling the steering wheel toward your body.
Hold for 5 to 10 seconds.
Step 4: Bicep curl: For bicep curls you can use either a small dumbbell or weighted arm wraps.
Keep one hand on the steering wheel and lift your forearm towards your body. Keep your elbow stationary and close to your side.
Do 10 repetitions on each arm and do 3 sets.
- Tip: You can put the weights you used in Step 4 for bicep curls around your ankles to add more resistance to this move.
Step 7: Calf raises. As both feet must come off the pedals this is another exercise for passengers or parked cars only.
Place your toes onto the the floor mat and lift your heels off the mat. Squeeze your calf muscles as you lift your legs.
Do 20 repetitions.
Step 8: Ab crunches. If your car is safely in Park, take both hands off the wheel and place your fingertips behind your head.
Bend at the hips towards the steering wheel or, if you’re in the passenger seat, towards the dash.
Repeat 20 times.
Incorporating a few exercises into your daily commute is good for the body, but also good for the soul. If you do these exercises the next time you’re stuck in traffic, you’ll find yourself feeling calm, relaxed, and physically energized.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Work Out in a Car and was authored by Brady Klopfer.