“Simple at-home exercises may help improve your overall driving experience.”

When you think about driving safety, exercise isn’t likely the first thing that comes to mind. However, a study by The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence and the MIT AgeLab found that exercise can improve both the physical aspects of driving people often find most challenging and the overall driving experience.

Are you staying flexible enough to look behind you when backing up? Are your reaction times moving from the gas to the brake as quick and strong as you’d like them to be? The Hartford and MIT AgeLab pondered these kinds of questions when developing their study. And what they discovered may be surprising. 

A group of individuals aged 50 and above exercised for 15-30 minutes a day and reported improvements in their driving. In fact, even just getting in and out of the car became easier.

The study’s exercise program focused on the following four areas:

  • Strength
  • Range of motion
  • Flexibility
  • Coordination

Each area has a set of exercises that are simple and easy to do at home. Before you hit the road, try out these driving exercises:*

Strength Exercises

Biceps Curls

  • Focus Area: Upper body
  • Recommended: 2 or 3 sets of 8 repetitions per set

Biceps curls are a great strength-training exercise for your upper body. You can use dumbbells, elastic tubing or everyday items like soup cans to complete this exercise from a seated or standing position. To get started, keep your elbows straight, palms facing forward and elbows tucked in at your waist. Then, exhale as you bend your elbows and raise your hands up close to your shoulders.

biceps curls


  • Focus Area: Lower body
  • Recommended: 2 or 3 sets of 8 repetitions per set

Try out squats to improve your lower body strength. Begin by standing tall, keeping your feet hip-distance apart and your toes pointing forward. Bend your hips and knees and push your hips back as if you’re sitting in the air. While you do this, raise both arms forward to balance as your hips move back. Be sure to inhale while you’re lowering into the squat, and exhale as you return to a standing position. For extra balance, hold onto a chair.

Range of Motion Exercises

Back Stretch

  • Focus Area: Back, chest and shoulders
  • Recommended: Hold for 3 to 5 seconds and repeat on the other side

For this exercise, start in a seated position and cross your right leg over your left leg either at the knee or the ankle. With your chest up and shoulders down, contract your abdominals and slowly rotate your upper body to the right. Keeping both hips in contact with the chair, hold at the point of tension for up to five seconds.

back stretch

Heel Drops

heel drops
  • Focus Area: Ankles
  • Recommended: 8 to 12 repetitions

Heel drops are a great way to improve ankle strength and flexibility. Start in a seated position, then slowly alternate pointing and flexing your toes and ankles. Hold each point and flexed position for 3 to 5 seconds.

Flexibility Exercises

Chest and Shoulder Expansion

  • Focus Area: Chest and shoulders
  • Recommended: 4 repetitions

These expansions are a great way to increase flexibility in your chest and shoulders. Get started by sitting forward in your chair and place your hands low on the back frame of the chair. Lean forward at your hips until your elbows are straight. Inhale while lifting your chest, then exhale as you lean forward at your hips and stretch your shoulders.

chest and shoulder expansion

Shoulder Stretch

shoulder stretch
  • Focus Area: Shoulders
  • Recommended: Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat on the other side. Repeat 1 to 2 times.

To improve your range of motion, stretch your arm across your body by holding your opposite arm on your tricep. You can complete this stretch from either a  seated or standing position. Begin by maintaining good posture with your chest lifted, shoulders down and abdominals tight. Cross your right arm over your chest (below shoulder height) and hold it in place with your left hand above the elbow for a good stretch.

Coordination Exercises

Soccer Kicks

  • Focus Area: Overall agility and balance
  • Recommended: 4 sets of 8 repetitions per set

Soccer kicks are an energizing activity that can improve your agility, coordination and balance. On a flat surface area, warm up with low kicks, alternating right and left kicks. Be sure to stand tall with good posture with your chest up and shoulders down. Kick across your body while keeping a slight bend in your knees, and let both of your arms move in the opposite direction your leg is kicking.

soccer kicks

Lateral Steps

lateral steps
  • Focus Area: Upper and lower body
  • Recommended: 4 sets of 8 repetitions per set

Lateral steps are a great follow-up exercise to soccer kicks to further improve agility and coordination. On a flat surface area, start with your feet together and step sideways right and left. Keep your feet moving as wide as you are comfortable. Maintain a slight bend in your knees as you step to the right and left. Place your hands on your hips or move your arms up and down at the shoulder while breathing evenly and continuously.

Start incorporating these exercises into your routine today, share them with your friends and let us know in the comments how much stronger and more flexible you feel behind the wheel. No matter where you go, healthy driving is a big part of how you get there.

For more instructions and visuals on how to complete these exercises, download a printable copy of the exercise guide for mature drivers.

This content is made available for informational purposes only.  The Hartford assumes no liability or responsibility for any injury, or damage suffered by any person as a result of the use of any information made available here.

*Readers are encouraged to consult with their physician before beginning this or any exercise program.