Bus drivers spend long periods seated behind a wheel, presenting unique challenges when it comes to staying healthy and flexible. But there are ways that drivers can counteract the negative aspects of their sedentary posture at work. By focusing on the neck and shoulders, core and legs, drivers can develop the foundation to stay strong and mobile in the long-run.

As with anyone, prioritising time walking and building up a cardiovascular basis should also be a goal for bus drivers working full-time jobs. Beyond cardio, here are some ideas of exercises that bus drivers can do 1) during their shift, 2) within breaks and 3) on their days off.

During shift

There are three exercises that you can do at the wheel when you know you'll be waiting at a red light or are parked up.

  • Scapular squeezes: Pull your shoulder blades together while keeping your arms relaxed at your sides. See video
  • Neck rolls: Slowly roll your head in a circular motion, first clockwise, then counter-clockwise.
  • Lateral neck bends: Gently tilt your ear towards your shoulder. See video

During breaks

Spending six to nine minutes during your break carrying out exercises and stretches can be a good way to counteract your driving posture. Here are five exercises that you can do anywhere, without equipment (and they won't break a sweat!):

  1. Isometric neck holds: Push your head gently against your palm in different directions (front, back, left, right), hold for 5 seconds, then relax. Repeat 3-5 times in each direction. See video
  2. Chin tucks: Gently tuck your chin towards your chest. See video
  3. Arm circles: Make small circles with your arms outstretched, forward 10 times, then backwards 10 times.
  4. Shoulder shrugs: Shrug your shoulders up towards your ears. See video
  5. Postural exercises: Chin tucks, shoulder blade squeezes, and chest openers can help counteract the effects of sitting by improving posture and reducing strain on your back and neck muscles.

If you have a clean, dry space during your break, you can also think about these two exercises:

  1. Doorway chest stretch: Stand in a doorway and place your forearms on either side of the frame. Lean forward slightly, keeping your back straight, until you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds. See video
  2. Core exercises: Planks, Russian twists, and bird-dogs help strengthen your core muscle.

Elevating your heart rate during breaks is also worth the time spent, since increasing circulation and re-calibrating your breathing will keep you alert during your next shift. Beyond brisk walking, carrying out jumping jacks or better burpees is the best way to get the blood flowing!

On days off

Spending time at the wheel creates two main posture problems. The seated position tightens hips, hip flexors and hamstrings, while the driving grid encourages an arched or hunches posture in the shoulders and neck. Working with weights is a good way to respond to these imbalances, so too longer stretching that you don't have time for on the days that you work.

For the upper body:

  • Dumbbell rows: Holding dumbbells, bend at your waist and row your arms up towards your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body. Women can use 5-8kg dumbbells, men 10-15kg.

Fro the lower body:

  • Seated butterfly: Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together. Gently allow knees to open. You can enhance the stretch by arching your body over your knees, then attempting to sit upright.
  • Squats: Low squats with or without added weight. An additional weight can be added to a barbell, with the bar placed behind the head. Beginners should attempt with an empty barbell to rehearse technique.
  • Lunges: Low-lunge focusing on a straight upper body and weight distributed by both legs, looking for a 90°  bend in the front knee and back knee.
  • Calf raises: Standing on a the balls of your feet on a slightly raised platform - lifting the body, then lowering. Repeat repetitions based on progress.

Need help staying motivated and completing these exercises?