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Healthy and fit on the go: Exercise you can do in the car

Simple exercises while driving or sitting

Try these simple exercises to relieve stress and tension while driving or sitting for long periods of time. 


Sitting tall is the best position in the car. Head up, neck straight, shoulders down, stomach in, thighs parallel to the floor. Adjust your car seat and steering wheel for perfect posture.

Neck rolls

Keep your eyes on the road and lower your chin as far as you can, hold 5 seconds and release. Keeping your eyes on the road, move your chin to the left, hold, to the right, hold, then raise your chin as far as you can and hold. At a stoplight, do these exercises through the full range of motion.


Place hands on the steering wheel at 9 and 3. Shrug your shoulders to your ears, hold for 5-10 seconds, then release. Lower your shoulders (pull your elbows down) and hold and release. Pull your shoulders forward, hold, then release. Pull your shoulders back, hold, then release. Now draw 5 circles forward with your shoulders, then 5 circles backward.


Place hands on the steering wheel at 9 and 3. Raise your elbows, hold for a 5-count, lower to neutral then squeeze your elbows into your body and hold for a 5-count. Return to neutral and repeat up to 10 times.

Stomach and back

Pull your stomach muscles tight, hold for 20 or 30 seconds, and release. Repeat up to 10 times. Roll your pelvis forward (lower back against the seat back) hold for a 3-count, then slowly roll your pelvis back (arch your back away from the seat) and hold for a 3-count. Return to neutral and repeat up to 10 times.
Buttocks and thighs: Squeeze your butt muscles together, hold for a 5-count, release. Repeat up to 10 times. Squeeze your front and back thigh muscles together, hold for a 5-count, release. Repeat up to 10 times.

Calves and feet

Lift your heels as high as you can, hold for a 3-count, release and repeat. Lift your toes as high as you can, hold, curl your toes in tight, release your toes, release your feet and return to neutral. Repeat 5 times. 

Relax and release tension

While the car is stopped, squeeze all of your muscles tightly. Hold for 5 seconds then release with a loud sigh. When you’re alone in the car and the windows are shut, yell, scream, or sing as loudly as you can to let out all your stress and frustration.

  • Breathe. Breathe in deeply to the count of 5, hold for the count of 10, release slowly while counting to 5. Repeat up to 3 times. Tip: this is also a good exercise to do if you are nervous or anxious and need to calm yourself. It will lower your heart rate and breathing rate.
  • Take a break. Plan to take a short break every hour while you’re on the road. Stop at a rest stop or other safe place. Get out of the car and take a brisk two-minute walk.
  • Swing your arms. When you’re out of the car, stand tall and hold your arms out to the side. Gently twist all the way to the left then all the way to the right. Repeat 5 times each way then return to neutral and relax.
  • Stretch tall. Hold your arms overhead, clasp your hands and look up. Stretch everything as tall as you can, stretch back a bit, then release and stand straight.
  • Legs and back. Roll your spine forward starting with your head – chin on chest, shoulders forward, roll down to hug behind your (bent) knees, hold for 3 then roll back up. Inhale as you roll down, exhale as you roll up.
  • Shake. Standing tall, arms away from your body, shake your arms, head, torso, then each leg and foot. End standing tall with your arms at your sides.

Reviewed by Jimmie Johnson, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2023

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