The In-Your-Car Workout

Waiting in your car doesn’t have to be idle time.
Published March 11, 2016

Unless you live in a city, you likely spend more time behind the wheel of a car than you’d like – and waiting in the car, whether for your kids, your husband, your carpool buddies, can feel like a real time-suck. Time you could spend working out, for instance.

Well shift that gear into "park," because there is a way to turn your wait time into a workout. Just follow these driver’s-seat strength drills. Use this workout to get started in a fitness program or to augment your already active lifestyle. Stow a tennis ball in the glove box for the full effect, but don’t worry if you don’t have one; these exercises can also be done without a ball using your body for resistance.

Note: These moves are designed for a parked car. Don’t risk a ticket (or your life) by getting your fit on at a red light.

Work your: adductors (inner thighs) 
Position a tennis ball between your knees and give it a powerful squeeze with your inner thighs, holding a few seconds with each contraction. Complete two sets of 15 repetitions to start, working up to four sets over time.

Work your: chest and shoulders 
With a tennis ball between the palms of your hands, interlace fingers over the top of the ball. Raise elbows out to the side in line with your chest. Begin pushing palms toward one another, then releasing. Feel the work in your chest and shoulders. Complete two sets of 15 repetitions to start, working up to four sets over time.

Work your: forearms 
Strengthen your forearms to help with gardening, tennis, mountain biking, or anything that requires a strong grip. Wrap the fingers of one hand around your tennis ball and squeeze using maximum strength for one second, followed by one second of relaxation. Complete 15 repetitions on each side, aiming for two sets on with each arm.

Work your: calves 
With both feet flat on the floor of the car, perform 20 heel raises with each leg. Alternate sides and complete two sets for each leg. To increase difficulty, position tennis ball under the ball of the foot and complete leg raises with a greater range of motion.

Work your: core 
Sit up tall in the seat of your car, making a straight line from your tailbone to the crown of your head. Draw belly button towards the spine before engaging abdominal muscles. Focus on the lower abdomen, just below the navel and above the pubic bone. Hold engaged muscles for fifteen seconds, working up to one minute. Perform 2-4 sets.

Work your: glutes 
Tone your tushy using a similar technique as you did with the core. Engage glutes while sitting tall in your car seat. Hold engaged muscles for fifteen second, working up to one minute. Perform 2-4 sets.

And finally, treat yourself to a well-deserved foot massage. Take off your shoes and position the ball under the sole of your foot. Roll the ball across the entire bottom of your foot, releasing the plantar tendon. Spend as much time as is required to feel fully relaxed.

Laurie Lethert Kocanda is an ACE certified fitness professional and co-author of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom.