Lifestyle Guides

Stretch, strengthen and sprint: three exercises for van drivers 

van driver smiling

More than half (56%) of van drivers consider themselves overweight, but we know all too well how tiring a long day at the wheel can be. Driving for hours and late finishes can mean the last thing you crave is a gym session when you get home. 

But the health benefits of regular physical activity are undisputed, and it can help improve mental wellbeing. According to the NHS, ‘regular exercise can boost your mood if you have depression, and it's especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression’.

Research by Mercedes-Benz Vans UK in 2017 found that one in five of the 2,000 van drivers interviewed described their current mental health as poor or very poor. 

To stay healthy, the NHS recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week for adults. So, we’ve taken a look at some driver-friendly exercises you can incorporate into your working week.

Stretch 

This is important for your health and safety when sitting in a van for long periods of time. Many stretches can be done where you are, such as neck rotations, shoulder pulls, wrist bends and chest pulls. 

To activate your shoulders, back and arms, hold either side of the steering wheel, pressing and pulling alternatively. Hold each position for at least 10 seconds and keep breathing normally throughout. 

If you’re able to, it’s also a great idea to get some stretching done outside of the van. Focus on simple hamstring stretches, lunges, arm rotations and quad stretches to move those parts of your body that may be neglected when sat at the wheel. 

Handy purchase: Resistance bands are a great way to add intensity to your stretches. They’re inexpensive and take up almost no room.

Strengthen

Carrying heavy goods or have something weighted to hand? It’s likely that you’ll have some heavy boxes in the van, or at least a filled drinks bottle or rucksack. 

Try doing some simple resistance exercises to build strength that will not only increase your metabolism but also prevent injury. A circuit of bicep curls, tricep extensions, shoulder press and bent over rows will work your core and upper body. 

Weighted squats, lunges and deadlifts will get your legs fired up after all those miles in the driver’s seat. 
Another great way to maximise the time you have is to focus on posture and form when lifting and delivering goods. If you’re depositing and collecting heavy items, brace your core and prioritise mind-to-muscle connection to reap the rewards of your daily labour. 

Sprint

The benefits of quick HIIT workouts are well-researched. If you stop and grab a coffee, you can try to incorporate some quick activity into this task. Just 10 minutes of physical activity can improve your physical and mental health and keep you alert on those long roads. Little and often is the key here. 

Try an interval workout - 30 seconds on, 10 seconds off - with a few high-intensity exercises such as jumping jacks, squat jumps, lunges or high knees to get your heart rate up. 

Handy purchase: Skipping ropes are compact and affordable, making a great addition to a cardio circuit on-the-go. 

There are plenty of free resources available to stream or download workouts so you can always have a workout ready to go on your phone or device.

Hopefully these simple tips will help you keep fit, or at least fight the pain and aches that are often brought on after a long journey in your seat. We also have an article on beating fatigue for van drivers [link when live].

  • CALM, the Campaign Against Living Miserably, offers a 24/7 helpline and encourages drivers to seek help if they’re feeling stressed. Call 0800 58 58 58 from 5pm to midnight, 365 days a year.

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