By Lynn Difley
Long road trips are part and parcel of an RVers way of life. We are often unable to avoid sitting for long periods of time as we move from one campground to another, or roam our summer haunts to winter snowbird roosts. Keeping your body fit and your mind alert while undertaking long term travel is a great challenge.
The longer you sit, the more your whole body and mind go to sleep, until you are a veritable zombie, one that is hurtling down the road at 55 miles per hour behind the wheel of a multi-ton vehicle. Not a good scenario. You probably have heard the statistic that after the age of 50, more traffic accidents and fatalities are caused by fatigue than any other cause. Yes, fatigue.
Losing power due to inactivity can be a dangerous situation. The most effective way to combat this drowsiness and low energy is with thorough stretching, proper breathing, and good posture. You don’t have to pull off the road and go out for a run, although it would be a good way to rejuvenate and revive.
To begin with, try to allow five minutes of physical activity for every hour you sit, whether at the wheel or in the passenger seat. Pull off at a roadside stop and walk over to the bathrooms–saves on your holding tanks anyway–which stirs the circulation. If it’s raining outside, do a few step up-and-downs in the stairwell. Imagine you’re in a step aerobics class–guaranteed to speed up the old ticker. Do a series of pushups on the countertop or back of your seat–incline pushups are often used by bodybuilders looking to increase their chest and shoulder mass. You can use them to restore circulation to the upper body.
Bad posture can give your brain up to 30% less blood and oxygen, so check yours out. If you find yourself slumping, at least lift up tall and take a couple of deep breaths while you press your shoulders back and down.
Even if you don’t walk around outside, you can pace a bit inside your rig, jump up and down, reach up to the ceiling to stretch, roll your shoulders, march your knees, curl your heels in towards your rear.
Take deep breaths, arch and round your spine as you breathe, just breathing deeper will act to rejuvenate your body, increase your alertness, and improve your overall fitness. If you have a dog, he or she will encourage you to pull over, get out and move around. Look at it as your refueling stop, as important as gas or diesel stops. You will increase your own power, efficiency, and alertness, as well as contribute to your overall fitness level. If you walk five minutes for every hour spent driving, at the end of an eight hour day, you will have accomplished 40 minutes of exercise–as well as giving yourself and your passengers a power boost and avoiding the risk of driving fatigued.