Exercise can save your life in more than one way. It prevents disease yes, but also enhances alertness when done properly and combined with good nutrition. Many people seek out fitness to boost their energy levels. How many think to use it when feeling sleepy behind the wheel?

Drowsy Distraction

We have all seen the signs at rest stops during car trips, reminding drivers to take a break, walk around to stretch limbs and improve circulation, or simply toss a ball back and forth with fellow passengers. These tips remind us that movement is critical in waking ourselves up after long periods of riding in a vehicle, especially for the driver.

Even under ideal road conditions, reinvigorating the body helps blood flow to the brain and improves concentration and reaction time. If a driver has been navigating in the snow or a heavy downpour, he already feels the strain induced by the increased intensity and focus on the road. Couple that with sleepiness, and the results can be frightening.

Even if your journey does not involve a cross-country commute, driving while overly fatigued can cause serious impairment to thought processes. Caffeine may provide a quick jolt of energy, but is not always a convenient option. What is almost always at a driver’s disposal is a rest stop, a gas station, a local park, or a neighborhood with sidewalk access.

Make Movement Mandatory

Acknowledging that fatigue is creeping in should be the first and only warning sign needed to take action…literally. After safely pulling off the road, exit the vehicle and engage in some basic full body movements:

  • Marching
  • Jumping jacks
  • Brief sprints interspersed with brisk walking or skipping
  • Toe touches
  • Push-up’s against the car door
  • Arm circles


Move in any way to help yourself become more alert, eliminating as much “road hypnosis”, so to speak, as you can.


Fuel For Focus

While on a break, appropriate refueling can boost blood sugar levels and replenish energy. Rather than reaching for a candy bar or sugary beverage, the body will respond much better to sustained energy sources, such as a protein/carbohydrate combination. Whole grain crackers and peanut butter, a cheese stick, fresh fruit and peanut butter, or homemade trail mix consisting of dry cereal, almonds, soy nuts, raisins, and even a few chocolate chips are all ideal choices and are easy to pack before hitting the road. Dehydration, too, is a significant contributor to fatigue, so be sure to have water bottles on hand.

If these suggestions sound a great deal like a modified session at the gym, this is no coincidence. A great workout always energizes, doesn’t it? Exercising on the road is no exception. Staying alert can save lives!!!

April 6th is drowsy driver awareness day. Remind your clients that they can use fitness to save their life on the road!

How do you stay awake while driving? Ever slept somewhere unexpected to avoid driving drowsy? Come tell us your story!

If you’re NFPT certified join the community group.


Cathleen Kronemer

Cathleen Kronemer is an NFPT CEC writer and a member of the NFPT Certification Council Board. Cathleen is an AFAA-Certified Group Exercise Instructor, NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer, ACE-Certified Health Coach, former competitive bodybuilder and freelance writer. She is employed at the Jewish Community Center in St. Louis, MO. Cathleen has been involved in the fitness industry for over three decades. Feel free to contact her at trainhard@kronemer.com. She welcomes your feedback and your comments!