Seven Exercises to Help You Keep Your Driving Skills Finely Tuned
By Mary Ann Wilson, RN
While we’re all attentive to keeping our vehicles in good working order to avoid break downs, few of us give much thought to tuning up the many areas of our body that contribute to safe driving. The good news is that there are a variety of easy exercises you can incorporate into your daily life that will improve your driving performance. Here’s a list of the types of exercises that can strengthen our driving skills:
1) reaction time exercises
2) hand/eye coordination exercises
3) peripheral vision exercises
4) brain exercises to improve processing time
5) neck and upper body flexibility exercises
6) vestibular system exercises
7) lower body strengthening exercises
Reaction Time and Hand/Eye Coordination
While you’re watching television there’s a simple way to work on both reaction time and hand/eye coordination. Using a ball, piece of fruit or balloon, play toss and catch with yourself during commercial breaks. Throw the ball upward in all different directions and at different heights to challenge yourself. Practice this game seated and standing. If someone else is in the room with you get them involved by tossing it back and forth.
Practice the same ball toss game above but this time keep the head and eyes looking forward. Intentionally challenge yourself by throwing the ball off to the sides. The object is to see the ball in your peripheral vision and react by catching it while still looking forward.
Slowly, with one hand trace a square in the air and with the other hand trace a circle. After giving it a good try, switch so that the hand that was originally tracing the circle is now trying to trace the square and vice versa. This forces the two different sides of your brain to work together in new ways.
Neck and Upper Body Flexibility /Vestibular System
The most important area to focus on with regards to upper body flexibility and the vestibular system are the muscles and movements of the neck. Begin in a seated position. As with all exercises start with good postural alignment. Rotate the neck to the right and then to the left slowly as if watching a tennis match. Keep the eyes forward as the head is moving back and forth. Next, with the same head movement follow with the eyes. Finally, lean forward slightly from the hip and look behind you in one direction. Sit back up. Lean forward again and look behind you in the opposite direction. Repeat several times.
Lower Body Strengthening
This exercise can be done from a chair using an exercise resistance band. Place the band under the right foot and hold the ends of the band in both hands. Slowly bend the right knee and lift it so that the right foot comes off the ground. Extend the leg slowly working the quadriceps muscles. Repeat 8-12 times on the right leg and change legs. If you don’t feel enough resistance, tighten the grip on the band or increase the resistance of the band. This a great exercise to do every day either when your watching television or when you are working at your desk. Keep the band next to your chair so you can remind yourself to do the exercise.