Exercises To Maintain Driving Ability As You Age
Studies have found that senior drivers with higher levels of fitness have better driving performance. Therefore, it is important do specific exercises and stretches that improve the body’s flexibility as we age. Here are some suggested exercises for improving range of motion, strength and flexibility. (Remember to consult with your doctor before beginning these exercises.)
The back is one of the most injury-prone body parts. Regular back stretches may help prevent injury and improve range of motion. Try the yoga back stretch called upward-facing dog: Lie face-down on the floor with feet together, place palms on floor near the chest and press up, pull back shoulder blades and breathe.
This stretch can help loosen your calf muscles and increase range of motion. Begin this heel drop stretch by standing on a bottom step of a flight of stairs or curb, with balls of feet on the edge. Keep your calves relaxed and slowly drop your heels toward the ground.
Chair stands are often used to test leg strength in older adults. Performing this exercise can help strengthen muscles in the thighs and abdomen. Start by sitting in the middle of a sturdy chair and keep feet flat on floor and back straight. Place hands on opposite shoulders and stand up slowly while keeping back straight. Slowly sit down. Repeat.
Squats are a full body exercise that strengthens the hips, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and the core. They can also help improve balance, coordination and bone density. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and arms extended out in front of you. Slowly bend at the knees as if you are sitting down in a chair. Keep back straight and do not bend forward at hips. Return to starting position.
Start by holding a pair of 5-15 pound dumbbells at your sides, palms facing forward. Begin the bicep curls by bending arms at the elbows. Curl weights toward shoulders and slowly lower back to starting position while keeping back straight. Repeat.
The neck rotation exercise can help increase range of motion when turning your head. It can be performed either standing or sitting. Begin by looking straight ahead. Turn head over shoulder to one side. Hold stretch and repeat on other side.