Keeping in shape can be problematic for anyone whose job involves sitting for prolonged amounts of time, but there are few more restricted than busy taxi drivers.
Sitting all day has been proven to lead to posture and muscular issues, heart issues, joint pain and stiffness, obesity and metabolic complication, higher blood sugar and body fat and abnormal cholesterol levels. Let’s address the more immediate detrimental effect of all that sitting: immobility, muscle and posture issues.
Posture problems are the result of muscle tension, with certain poses meaning that muscles go unused and are weakened. The most common issues caused by sitting all day are aching, a stiff lower back, stiff knees, hips and neck. This will occur without regularly shifting your position. There are signs to look out for: if your lower back and shoulders are rounded when you stand, and straightening up feels hindered, it will mean that you have been sitting in one position too long. That means you have left it too long.
On a back-to-back day, it’s not like you can pull over for a stretch mid-fare, and it is definitely against the law to get in your exercise while at the wheel. So what can you do while in your car seat? Try the following (when you are not driving):
Turn your neck so you are facing one side, hold for five Mississippi’s and turn slowly to the other side. Repeat three times.
Do the same but laterally, looking up and holding for five Mississippi and then down, and repeat.
Next, while looking ahead, tilt your head so that your ear is resting on your shoulder. Hold and do the same on the other side. Repeat twice.
While sitting, roll your glutes away from your chair back so that you back is arched and hold. Slowly roll it back so that your spine curves and hold again.
Then, with a straight back, facing forward, raise one buttock and hold for 5 seconds. Do the same on the other and repeat on both sides 3 times.
While sitting, knees ahead, twist at your waist so your upper body is facing left. Hold and repeat to the right. Repeat on both sides 3 times.
Shoulders And Arms
Lean forwards and hold both arms out straight behind your back. Hold for 5 Mississippi’s and repeat 3 times.
Then, press back against your chair with your arms stretched out in front. Hold for 5 Mississippi’s and repeat 3 times.
If at the end of a shift, you feel that your posture needs some correcting, there are a few simple exercises you can do to make some adjustments.
To straighten your back, loosen your hips and correct rounded shoulders, consider the following exercises:
Planks. This includes front and side planks. Hold for a minimum of thirty seconds to improve your core strength. When you advance, raise the platform or balance on a yoga ball with your forearms.
Reverse sit-ups. There are many names for these, but if there is equipment available that allows you to begin at a right-angle facing forward so that you can extend your back, perform three sets of these.
Crunches. Your abs will be in rest mode while sitting all day long, so sit-ups and abs strengthening exercises are good for strengthening the core.
Bent over row. Strengthen your back, lats and obliques with rowing movements. If your back is tender, be careful with the bent over row, opting for one that works your back in a way that feels ‘safer’, such as the seated row.
Chest fly. Correct your round shoulder with a chest fly and put your pecs to work. Go for three sets of eight-12 reps.
Reverse fly. Work both your front and back to stay aligned by performing a reverse fly.
Because it may be prolonged amounts of times between snacks or meals – and you can’t graze while driving a fare on a long journey, your best bet is to plan ahead. In terms of gaining weight, this is a result of an imbalance between a number of calories you take in and the amount you burn off. That is not to say that because you’re sitting for so long that you shouldn’t eat. What’s more is you’ll need the energy to concentrate and stay safe on the road (as well as putting up with passengers).
If you can, prepare your food in advance so that you’re not tempted to pick up junk on your travels and think about what nutrition you’ll need. A litre or so of water is a must in order to stay hydrated. If you need a snack, fruit and nuts mixes will provide you with the energy and protein you need for a pick me up without excessive calories or preservatives.
In preparation for longer bouts without a snack, slow burning carbs and proteins are a good idea. Beans, grains, pasta, rice and green vegetables are good sources and also easily stored.
Casein protein hosts a complete amino acid profile and contains branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) which are the building blocks of new proteins. It can take six hours to metabolise, meaning your body digests and puts it to use over a longer period. Drinking a casein protein shake at the start of your day with a bowl of porridge should see you through the morning!