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September 24, 2013  |   Comments (1)   |   Post a comment

3 reasons for bus drivers to get fit, and how to get there

For school bus drivers, obtaining a basic level of fitness and maintaining a healthy weight will enhance safety, professionalism and personal wellness. The job can actually provide a good structure for making time to exercise and eat well.

by Larry Hannon Jr.

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As I mentioned before, trips can throw a curveball into a routine. However, they don’t always necessitate skipping workouts or making poor food choices. Depending on where you are traveling, you may have some downtime, and there may be fine areas for taking a walk or a run.

Resourcefulness is good, too. For example, an elementary school may provide a playground area, which could be ideal for calisthenics. A secondary school may have a track, which could be ideal for a cardiovascular endeavor such as a brisk walk or run. And it is always wise to pack a healthy lunch ahead of time.

Don't blame the seat
Some people blame the high obesity rate on the sedentary nature of our job. Let’s explore this. We’ll assume that we work for eight hours each day. We sleep for eight hours each night. This leaves us with eight other hours. I truly believe that anybody can fit a workout of some sufficiency somewhere into that remaining eight-hour timeframe.

Let’s consider something else in this "sedentary nature" concept. Although we are not necessarily striving to become professional athletes, they provide a lesson for us.

The observation of many world-class athletes shows them primarily doing two things: working out and resting. Many actually spend very little time walking around or performing moderate exercise. They exercise purposefully, and then they rest and recover.

Personally, I find such a routine rather effective. I get my exercise during my off hours and enjoy my seat time behind the wheel. There is no need to be exercising for an entire workday.

 Fitness tips for bus drivers
• Work out after the a.m. run and/or after the p.m. run.
• During downtime on trips, look for an area to exercise, such as a school playground.
• Pack a healthy lunch ahead of time.
• Start with a 10- or 15-minute walk or a quarter-mile jog, or less.
• Cut out one snack or replace one soda with water.
• Begin gradually, keep it simple and take one step at a time.

Start small, keep it simple
That brings us to the actual nature of exercise and diet. Small things can be significant in themselves and can also progress into even greater improvements.

A simple 10- or 15-minute walk or a quarter-mile jog, or less, are great starts and can progressively lead to physical improvements. Cutting out one snack or replacing one soda with water can be steps in the right direction. Begin gradually and take one step at a time.

When it comes to health and fitness, we really don’t need complicated workout routines and trick diets. Those may be vital for professional athletes, but overall wellness and weight control is a simple process. I did not say easy, but simple.

As a society, our knowledge of exercise, diet and lifestyle is vast. Ultimately, it comes down to application and being conscientious. When we give conscientious thought to what we are actually doing to our bodies and plan ahead, our behaviors can change. With that our habits can change.

If more of us take these steps, our industry will become healthier as a whole. We should do it, and we can do it.

Larry Hannon Jr. is a school bus driver for the Centennial School District in Warminster, Pa., and head track and field/cross country coach at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pa. He also serves as a volunteer judge at local and state school bus safety competitions. His father, Larry Hannon Sr., is a 37-year driver for Centennial and has placed first at the School Bus Driver International Safety Competition nine times.

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Read more about: driver wellness

Interesting and well written, researched article that should lead to fair compensation for school bus drivers. In many jurisdictions, driving a school bus is a minimum wage job, with no benefits, sick time etc. The time for a lifestyle described in this article, and healthy food may not be affordable. Physical and financial fitness go hand-in-hand. "You get what you pay for" may be applicable here.

Mike McLean    |    Dec 11, 2013 07:06 AM

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