How to stay healthy, safe and happy when driving

Stay healthy behind the wheel

We recently revealed how dirty car interiors really are, and how well they harbour bacteria and viruses – including COVID-19. 

As the UK lockdown eases a little, driving is now permitted for medical reasons (e.g. to visit a hospital or provide care), commuting to work (if you are unable to work at home), shopping for food and other necessities, and travelling to a different location for exercise (e.g. a park). 

However, with the added risks – and strain on the emergency services – associated with the pandemic, we recommend you don’t drive further than necessary for exercise. Those who are self-isolating should avoid driving altogether.

Those are the basic rules at present. But driving can also pose risks to your health more generally – including through stress and a poor diet.

According to data from the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Manchester’s commuters spend 48 hours a year stuck in traffic, while for Londoners it’s 50 hours.

With that in mind – and some helpful advice from Nationwide Vehicle Contracts –we’ve put together some easy-to-follow tips for staying healthy on the road.

Take some time for yourself 

Stay healthy behind the wheel

One of the advantages of a long commute is you have time to yourself. How you keep your mind busy, while of course paying attention to your driving, can be the difference between a bad drive and a good one.

Time for reflection is helpful, without the distraction of text messages, social media and so on. Enjoy the downtime and you’ll hit the ground running when you arrive at work.

Long commutes are also the perfect opportunity to educate yourself with audiobooks, podcasts and music. You could learn a language, develop a new interest, or simply broaden your knowledge. 

Make your commute more fun

Stay healthy behind the wheel

It may sound obvious, and maybe a bit silly, but a good first port of call for a pick-me-up on the road is putting on your favourite tunes and having a good singalong.

A study by Nature Research found that listening to ‘heroic’ music can up your mood. Line up that Avengers soundtrack…

Listening to music too loud can get you in trouble, though. Bradford council tried to pass a law that would see drivers playing loud music fined £100.

Dare we suggest the right car could boost your driving enjoyment, too? Thankfully, that doesn’t mean spending lots of money: a second-hand Mazda MX-5 or Volkswagen Golf GTI will make any journey more fun.

Take up a hobby

Stay healthy behind the wheel

Being crafty around your commute can free up time. Finish work at five, but traffic doesn’t calm down until half-six? Get a gym membership near your work, so you can either get in early or leave late. Either way, that hour-and-a-half commute might shrink to 50 minutes if you devote a bit of time to your fitness.

The other plus points are well-known. Burning calories will keep you healthy, and a bit of exercise releases good endorphins. A good mood, made better by clear morning or evening roads. A win-win.

Work in the city? Break up your commute by leaving your car on the outskirts, then walking or taking public transport. It could save you time, money (depending on where you are) and boost your mood. A bit more exercise is rarely a bad thing.

Give yourself enough time 

Stay healthy behind the wheel

Needless to say, a rushed drive is a stressful drive – and you’re more likely to make poor decisions behind the wheel. Get ahead of the traffic, roadworks and any other obstacles by leaving with time to spare. 

Then there’s the obvious problem of the law. Driving carelessly can land with a £100 fine and three points. The job of driving should always be top of your priority list. 

Keep your car tidy

How bad are our cars for harbouring diseases?

We’ve saved the nagging for the end, but it’s necessary all the same. Maintain the place where you spend two hours of your day, and your mood and health will likely improve. 

From crumbs to clutter, you’re better off without it all. Have a good clear-out and rediscover your car’s cabin.

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