3 top tips to get your daily exercise even if you’re driving

Many of us are about to spend a lot of time driving during the Christmas holidays. Here’s our best tips to help you keep up daily exercise habits despite sitting down for long periods of time.

Tips to keep up regular exercise

Exercise is an essential component of good health, which we need to keep in mind when driving for long periods. Now more than ever we understand the impact prolonged periods of sitting can have on our health and wellbeing.

Spending countless hours behind the wheel can make it challenging to meet the daily exercise recommendations for physical activity. It certainly makes it more difficult to sustain a healthy lifestyle.

We offer you three tips to help you meet the recommendations for daily exercise.

Minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise

Firstly, let’s establish what we’re aiming for.

The National Physical Activity Guidelines suggest a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise or 15 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise every day. That equates to a minimum of 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, or 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise.

To determine what intensity your exercise is, there are many simple tools at your disposal.

One of the easiest to use is the Talk-Sing test. If you can talk or sing comfortably during your exercise, you’re at a light intensity.

You’re at moderate intensity if you can talk through laboured breaths but can’t sing. You’re at vigorous intensity if you can’t talk or sing at all.

Now that we know what we’re looking for and how much exercise to complete, here are three simple ways to achieve this.

  1. Break up your physical activity over the day

Many people often struggle to fit in their daily exercise due to a lack of time or planning, and hours of driving certainly doesn’t make this easier. However, the good news is that you don’t have to complete all of your activity in a single session.

Breaking up your physical activity over the course of the day is a great way to ensure you can find the time and motivation to include physical activity into your routine. It can also serve as a great way to break up periods of prolonged sitting and reduce your overall sedentary behaviour, which is important in reducing your risk of developing health complications.

Look at your schedule, and try to slot in at least 10 minutes of physical activity (or whatever may work around your routine – anything is better than nothing) at different parts of the day, accumulating to 30 minutes.

Some examples could include brisk walking, jogging, or some simple bodyweight aerobic exercises like running on the spot.

A great opportunity to be physically active could be during any scheduled breaks through the day. If you can’t quite reach 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise over the course of the day, then start with what you can achieve, and slowly work your way up.

Remember to plan ahead. Recognise when you might be driving, when your rest breaks are, and where you think your physical activity would be best placed. The more planning you put into achieving daily exercise, the more likely you are to see success and reach the recommendations.

If you’re still struggling with time, then you may be interested in the following tip:

  1. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

One of the more effective ways to get your daily aerobic exercise is through HIIT.

HIIT typically combines short periods of high-intensity exercise with short periods of passive/low-intensity exercise or rest, and is well-established as an efficient form of exercise.

It can serve as a quick way to meet the physical activity guidelines, particularly if lack of time is a barrier that may be impacting your ability to keep active.

As discussed earlier, the recommendations for aerobic exercise are cut in half when the intensity of the exercise is increased.

As such, HIIT can be a great way to maximise the benefit of exercise you complete within a limited time-frame. For example, you could complete two short bouts of 8 minute circuits  before you get behind the wheel, during scheduled rest breaks, or after a long drive. This means you can meet the aerobic exercise requirements without having to impact your routine significantly.

Try combining a few of your favourite exercises into a quick burst. For example, completing 3 rounds of high knees, star jumps and squats for 30 seconds each, with 30 seconds of light jogging on the spot in between each exercise can equate to 9 minutes of exercise in total. Complete the same routine twice in a day, and you’ve met the guidelines!

  1. Bring exercise equipment with you on the road

There are many barriers to exercise and two of the most common are a lack of motivation to engage in physical activity or a lack of knowledge.

However, there are a host of great alternatives in the form of portable exercise equipment that can help in maintaining variety and subsequently sustain motivation to continue your exercise routine.

It may also allow you to engage in exercise that you’re already familiar with.

Some portable and affordable pieces of exercise equipment you could take with you include:

  • Resistance bands
  • Dumbbells
  • Foldable exercise bikes
  • Seated elliptical exercise machines
  • Skipping ropes
  • Kettlebells
  • Exercise mat

With even just a handful of these portable pieces of equipment, you can fashion a challenging, varied, and rewarding exercise session that meets the guidelines.

Sitting is one of the largest risk factors

Overall, prolonged sitting and sedentary behaviour is one of the largest modifiable risk factors for complications to your health and diabetes.

By ensuring you aim to meet the aerobic exercise guidelines, you can minimise your risk of these health complications.

If you’re having trouble meeting these recommendations for daily exercise, try some of the tips we’ve discussed in this article.

If you’re unsure where to start or what types of daily exercises are suitable for you, consult with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. Also, you can check if the Beat It fitness program is offering a course near you.

It’s an NDSS-funded 8 week fitness program that involves moderate intensity aerobic, strength and balance based exercises. It also offers education sessions on healthy living.

This life-changing exercise program can help you get back into a healthy routine to better manage your diabetes.

Whether you have exercised before or need some help getting started, the Beat It program will tailor individual exercises to your specific needs, including if you intend spending a lot of time on the road.

By Jonathon Fermanis
Accredited Exercise Physiologist

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