How to keep active when you drive a lot for work

Photo of hands on a car wheel

If you spend long hours behind the wheel, keeping active can help prevent aches and pains, while offering long-term benefits for your health.

Driving for a living is hard work. Whether you’re on the road to make sales calls, driving a taxi or bus, making short-haul deliveries or long-haul journeys in a lorry, it puts heavy demands on your body.

What are the effects?

People who drive a lot for work can develop problems like back, neck and shoulder pain. In a major US study, lorry drivers were also more likely to be overweight, and to have high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. And sitting for long hours can increase your risk of blood clots. The stress of driving may also take its toll on your mental wellbeing, and contribute to physical symptoms.

The good news is there’s a lot you can do to help prevent these problems. It’s important to keep as active and mobile as you can, and fitting this in with your job and lifestyle might be easier than you think.

Try these tips, stretches and exercises

When you’re taking a break from driving, or making a delivery, use the opportunity to do some stretches. Give your leg muscles some attention with stretches for your thighs (hamstring and quadriceps muscles) and calves.

infographic showing how to perform a basic squat

Infographic showing how to do calf raises

Infographic showing how to perform hamstring curls

Infographic showing how to do a stabilisation lunge

To give your arms some movement, do a few push-ups against the side or your vehicle.

You can also do some stretches for your neck, shoulder and back. Try this side tilt and neck turn.

Infographic showing how to do side tilt neck exercises

Infographic showing how to do neck turn exercises

To get your blood pumping and those muscles moving, walk or jog 10 laps around your vehicle.

These activities can also help to prevent blood clots, because they keep your circulation going.

Benefits of exercise

Everyone needs regular physical activity for a healthy heart and body. The UK Department of Health recommends adults do 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week. It may sound hard to manage this goal if you’re driving all the time, until you realise that you can do it in ten-minute chunks. During your day, why not take the opportunity to walk a bit further or climb some stairs? It all adds up.

Instead of flopping out on the sofa when you’re off duty, try taking up a sport or exercise programme. Whether it’s kicking a football around with your kids, going to the gym or joining a team, you will feel more energised. The important thing is to pick something you’ll enjoy, so you stick with it over time. Regular exercise can help you to shift any unwanted excess pounds too, helping you feel more confident and healthy.

Exercise is also great for tackling stress and increasing your mental wellbeing, so this is another good reason to make it part of your everyday lifestyle.

Do you know how healthy you truly are? Bupa health assessments give you a clear overview of your health. You’ll receive a personalised lifestyle action plan with health goals to reach for a healthier, happier you. 

Physiotherapist at Bupa UK

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