Exercise can have many benefits for our physical and mental well-being. But did you know it may also help you be a safer driver? To enjoy exercising even more, ask a friend to join you.
With the MIT AgeLab we researched the connection between physical exercise and driving and found some fascinating results. Our research tracked experienced drivers ages 60-74 as they followed a physical fitness program for 15-20 minutes per day over eight to 10 weeks.
Drivers in the study who were asked to exercise daily:
- Reported greater ease in turning their heads to see blind spots when changing lanes or to back up;
- Were able to rotate their bodies further to scan the driving environment while making right hand turns;
- Were able to get into their cars more rapidly, demonstrating increased overall flexibility.
The research also surveyed drivers 50+ and found that half have not considered how exercise might be beneficial to their ability to drive.
The participants in our study participated in an exercise program that focused on four areas – flexibility, range of motion, strength and coordination.
- Strength Exercises: Strength is important for many driving tasks such as pressing down on a brake pedal. Exercises like biceps curls and squats can help enhance a driver’s strength.
- Range of Motion Exercises: Range of motion is central to actions like putting on your seatbelt easily. Performing exercises like back stretches and heel drops can improve your range of motion.
- Flexibility Exercises: Flexibility is necessary for movements like getting in and out of your car easily. To enhance your flexibility, consider exercises like chest and shoulder expansions and shoulder stretches.
- Coordination Exercises: Coordination can help with the integration of movement in your upper and lower body, such as simultaneously braking and turning. Soccer kicks and lateral steps are good exercises for boosting your coordination.
Exercises like these are easy to learn, can be done anywhere and can be combined with your current exercise program*.
Two-Step Plan for You and a Friend
To add or begin an exercise program* to boost your driving wellness:
- Check with your health provider on the best exercise plan for you. Review our exercise guide, watch our exercise videos, or come up with your own plan.
- Follow a regular exercise program. Connect with a friend, build it into your calendar, and try to spend at least 15-30 minutes a day being active.
*Readers are encouraged to consult with their physician before beginning this or any exercise program.
The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence® creates innovative business solutions for the mature market. Staffed by gerontologists, the center is uniquely positioned to apply knowledge of aging to develop one-of-a-kind products and services for The Hartford’s customers, and specialized training for The Hartford’s employees. The center conducts original research in partnership with academic institutions and produces public education programs on safety, mobility and independence. The Hartford has had this in-house expertise since 1984, guiding The Hartford to unparalleled success in understanding and serving the mature market.