Did you know that by the time you hit your 30s and 40s you’ve already begun to lose strength and flexibility? Exercise plays a huge role in how healthy and fit we are, but did you know that it has an impact on driving as well? According to The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence and the MIT AgeLab’sExercise for Mature Drivers research, “exercise can enhance certain aspects of flexibility and range of motion for mature drivers, especially those in their 50s and 60s.”
I was joined by The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence’s Executive Director, Jodi Olshevski and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab’s Director, Dr. Joe Coughlin for an interview this week to discuss just how exercise impacts driving skills, normal age related changes that impact drivers as they age, exercises that will help mature drivers, and more.
Candace Rose: How can exercise impact driving skills for mature drivers?
Jodi Olshevski: “We know exercise is important for all of us as we age, it helps to keep us healthy. But we wanted to take a look with this research at the impact of exercise on driving. So we partnered with the MIT AgeLab, here at The Hartford to conduct the research and we found some interesting results. Participants who completed the exercise program told us that they had greater ease in turning their bodies and head when looking in their blind spots to change lanes, as well as when they’re backing up. They were able to rotate further when scanning the driving environment and when making right hand turns. And on a very practical level they were able to get in and out of their cars more rapidly. So overall, we found that this exercise program helped to enhance flexibility and range of motion for mature drivers.”
Candace Rose: What are some normal age related changes that can impact drivers as they age?
Dr. Joe Coughlin: “Well, it’s kind of unclear as to how how old is old. We start to lose strength and flexibility in our 30s and 40s, vision begins to be a problem at night by age 40, so really what we’re looking at is how can exercise extend the safe mobile independent driving lifespan for everyone across the age group, and for our interest especially those over age 50 and 60.”
Candace Rose: What are some exercises that are most likely to benefit mature drivers?
Jodi Olshevski: “Exercises that fall into four categories:
- That are related to strength
- That are related to range of motion
- Those that can enhance flexibility
- Those that can enhance coordination
Those were the areas that we looked at in our research, and you can actually take a look at our exercise guide that we put together with all the details on our website, which is TheHartford.com/Lifetime. Not only do we have this guide with photos and details, but we also have a video that you can view that demonstrates some of the exercises.”
Candace Rose: Do either of you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share?
Dr. Joe Coughlin: “I think probably the best idea is to ensure that you maintain your physical well being, manage the chronic conditions you may have, the medications and now we have a link that exercise is not just good for you in the ambiguous sense, but now you can link it to something that most of us have to do everyday and depend upon: driving.”
Candace Rose: Where can viewers go for more information?
Jodi Olshevski: “For more information you can go to TheHartford.com/Lifetime for tips and suggestions around safe driving.”