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Back on the Road

A Blog by TA & Petro Stopping Centers

Hope Zvara: 3 Ways to Work Out Without Working Out

Courtesy of Hope Zvara, CEO of Mother Trucker Yoga and yoga, movement and lifestyle expert:

Getting a workout in can be a challenge, and when you're a trucker, hitting the gym every single day isn't that easy. Where to park the truck? Does that road even allow large vehicles on it? But what if you can't leave your load?

Or let's face it. you're nowhere near a gym, let alone any signs of civilization. You've had a long day on the interstate, and you're exhausted. All too soon, you'll have to hit the road again. Living over the road isn't easy. As someone who travels quite a bit for work, living out of a suitcase is less than glamorous.

The thing is, scheduling a workout does not have to be a time suck. It surely doesn't have to be approached as that dreaded after-work activity. It can even be fun. Plus, it plays a very positive role in how we feel, and even how we sleep.

There are dozens of ways to incorporate a workout into your life, and even into your daily routine. The first step is simply opening your mind to the idea of something new. As someone who has spent more than half her life in the fitness and wellness arena, the number one argument I hear from people as to why they don't exercise more, is that they seem to think they don't have time. In fact, it appears that roughly 75 percent of the American population seems to have trouble finding time to work out.

I assure you that most of our population struggles to find the time to work out, whether at home or on the road. From my own 15 plus years of experience, I've found that making a mind shift is step one in building any new skill.

Just yesterday, I was faced with the question of, "Do I go for a quick walk or not?" It was nearly dark, and the rest of my family was heading in. I was tired but had no real excuse not to get that extra bit of movement in, other than my stock answer of, "I'm tired." Really, that was code to go inside and watch T.V.

So, what did I do? I got up, put my vest on, turned my phone flashlight on and hit the pavement. The result? I felt great and slept so much better, having gotten some extra movement in.

I get it, just the thought of "exercising" might scare you a bit. I get it, changing any aspect of an existing routine, even if it's not working, can be overwhelming. But, step one is merely opening yourself up to the idea that yes, this can be done.

What if adding in a bit of exercise every day could be as simple as moving more during the day? Instead of making exercise a goal for you, how about we start small? Take one simple step at a time. Consider your daily schedule and look for places where you can insert an additional movement here or an extra squat there throughout the day. At the end of the day, the goal is to increase your body's overall quota of movement. Don't forget, many TA, Petro and TA Express locations across the U.S. offer a variety of fitness options. That means it can be even easier to get up and get moving. Eventually, if you decide to create your own designated gym experience out on the road, that all becomes a bonus.

Here are three easy and stress-free ways to insert more movement (a workout) into your day.


1. Reach High & Squat Low

Reaching and squatting are two of the three basic movements we all must be able to do to age healthily, but it's my observation that when we enter into adulthood, we play less and sit more. We choose convenience over functionality. We quite possibly become a little less mindful of how and why we are doing things.

So instead of hitting the gym for a 45-minute one and done buns of steel squat workout, try to add a bit more squatting into your day purposefully. Dropped something? Squat down to get it. When you're standing in line, squat to break up wait. Looking under your truck or trailer? Squat to see underneath. There are dozens of ways to add in this movement. You just have to choose to.

As for reaching a bit more, why not consider a quick stretch in traffic? Or, put both hands on the truck door and step back a bit to stretch your underarm like a Downward Facing Dog. Reach up overhead, clasp your hands and push your palms to the sky. There are dozens of ways to insert this type of movement, where you would otherwise be just sitting or standing around.

Are you looking to get even more movement in? Invite a fellow driver to play a game of corn toss with you. There's lots of squatting down to pick up the bags in that game. Head out for a walk around the parking lot. Better yet, use one of the designated walking trail routes at many TA, Petro and TA Express locations.

These types of movement will benefit you well into your 80s. Don't complicate your workout. Make it work for you.

2. Chair Running Workout

You heard me correctly. Running…in a chair. Let’s face it; as a truck driver, you do something more than almost anyone else. Sit. Unless someone has a standing driver's seat in the works, we should reconsider what we do while sitting.

There are plenty of times you're seated when you're not actually driving, like waiting to load or unload, serving as co-pilot while team driving, spending break time scrolling Facebook and several others, I’m sure. And what is one of the biggest concerns for a truck driver when it comes to exercise and wellness? It's how you can get your heart rate up and get your cardio in.

Based on the facts, truck drivers are among those at the highest at risk for cardiovascular risks due to their work environment. So, the next time you find yourself just sitting around sit up tall, take your back off the support of the chair behind you and begin to march your legs up and down off the ground. Try not to lean back or round forward. Slowly start to increase the speed of your marching until you're up to a pace where you are almost out of breath. Try to do this for one minute and then notice your heart rate. Try to do this three times with one minute of rest in between.

3. Pumping Iron

For starters, take a look in your truck and find anything that has some weight to it and that you can grip hold of. I would suggest a water jug, which doubles as a hydration and workout tool, a duffel bag filled with clothes or even a hand weight.

While fueling up or on your 30-minute break, consider adding in a few rounds of some bicep curls. Standing tall, try to do 10 to 20 with each arm. Get creative and try to move your weight around your body - to the side, high, low and backward. You can even add a lunge into the mix.

Notice which directions are more comfortable and which are more complicated. More than likely, the easier ones mimic basic movement patterns you're already doing during the day. Challenge yourself to work on the ones that may require you to focus a bit more. Then ask yourself, "How can I incorporate moves like these into my daily life?"

Every movement matters and every step counts, but your plan means nothing until you put it into action. Forget the gym and let go of the idea that exercising is you carving a designated 30 minutes out of your day. Instead, consider how you can add more movement into your day, every day. When you add more movement into your day, it all adds up!

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